While most of us were busy tailgating and talking football this past Saturday, the No.18th ranked women’s softball team was celebrating their win over No. 3 ranked Florida at their new, 9.5 million dollar stadium named after long time administrator, John Cropp. The women’s softball team has had a lot of success over the past few years and that is in large part of their sixth-year softball head coach Rachel Lawson, who took over the program in July 2007 and has become the all-time winningest head coach in program history.
In just over five-and-a-half seasons at Kentucky, Lawson has instituted a winning tradition in Lexington (earning 27 or more wins in each of the last five seasons) and has coached the Wildcats to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (the only four appearances in school history) making UK one of just 27 schools to claim four straight NCAA Tournament berths. Even more impressive, Lawson’s 66 Southeastern Conference wins over the last six years are more than the program had overall from 1997-2007.
In her six years at Kentucky, Lawson has not only played against some of the best teams in the nation, she has defeated the best teams in the nation. The head coach has 35 wins over ranked teams in her time in UK, including 20 wins over top-10 teams and 12 over top-five teams. So far this season, Lawson and her Cats have defeated five ranked teams in then-No. 3 Cal, then-No. 16 Washington, then-No. 20 Stanford, then-No. 25 North Carolina and No.3 Florida.
In 2011, Lawson directed the Wildcats to their first NCAA Super Regional appearance and UK finished the season ranked No.12 in the country. The 2011 team earned a 40-16 overall record to set a new single-season standard for wins in a season and appeared in the national rankings for a school-record 14 consecutive weeks. Following the end of the impressive 2011 season, Lawson was awarded a five-year contract extension keeping her at the helm of the Wildcat program through 2016.
Lawson became just the third head coach in the history of the Kentucky softball program after spending three seasons at Western Kentucky. She also served as an assistant coach at Maryland from 1996-2002 and was the associate head coach of the Philadelphia Force professional team in 2006.
Lawson was a two-time all-conference player at Massachusetts, where she was part of a program that advanced to the 1992 Women’s College World Series. During her four-year career at UMass, Lawson helped the Minutewomen post a combined record of 142-68 (67.6 percent) including a 39-3 (92.9 percent) Atlantic 10 mark. In addition to the 1992 WCWS appearance, she was a part of squads that also advanced to the NCAA Tournament her freshman season, won three A-10 Tournament titles and claimed the league regular-season championship four straight years.
Lawson is a 1994 graduate of the University of Massachusetts.