Five seniors celebrate softball’s successes



By Chandler Howard

With the final out of Sunday’s softball doubleheader at the UK Softball Complex, five seniors saw the curtain close on their home-field careers.

The class of five is not one to forget. “First time in school history” seemed to be the phrase surrounding the current seniors through their recent seasons.

Under UK head coach Rachel Lawson’s direction and with the support of the underclassmen, the senior class achieved greater success than any before it.

“I can’t say enough about the senior class,” Lawson said. “They do everything right. They work incredibly hard in the classroom and in the weight room. I have never seen a day when they didn’t come out and give it their all. I think, because of that, our team has been able to take on a great culture. We have been able to come back from some adverse situations, which is something we struggled with in the past. To be the first to do all the things they have is just great. I hope they remember it forever.”

Second baseman Natalie Smith, pitcher Amber Matousek, outfielder Destinee Mordecai, shortstop Molly Johnson and outfielder Jennifer Young make up the group of decorated seniors. Each player appears in UK record books more than once.

Johnson, UK’s first All-American, and Smith not only serve the team as captains this season, but they also lead the team in batting average and hits.

Matousek tossed the first no-hitter of her career in February, notching only the second in school history.

But the group has been able to achieve more than individual success while playing under Lawson. On March 2, the Cats entered the top-25 poll for the first time in program history. Additionally, if the Cats are able to come away with one additional win this season, UK will mark its second consecutive 30-win season. The program has never before accomplished such a task.

The current senior class helped lead UK to its third SEC tournament last season. It was able to post its first postseason victory in school history in the tournament. It also achieved its first NCAA tournament appearance on the season.

“I am so proud of the things we were able to achieve last season under Coach Lawson,” Young said. “The improvements the UK softball program has made are amazing to be a part of. It is always a pleasure to come to practice and play in games with the other four seniors. It’s important for us to set a standard for the team and the upcoming freshmen. Just being able to say that you accomplished so much at Kentucky is a great feeling.”

Following the senior day celebration between games Sunday, the five Cats were left with mere memories of the place they called home for their career.

“For me, it is so exciting to succeed like this,” Matousek said. “Coming in as freshmen, we didn’t win many games and we didn’t get to experience the postseason. After last year, I realize this is what I came here to do. This is what I play softball for. To go to the SEC tournament, to go to regionals — I just want to be able to advance past that now. “