Johnson homers her way to finalist for Lowe’s Senior Class award



By Chandler Howard

One UK softball player continues to swing her way to the top of the record books.

When senior shortstop Molly Johnson stepped to the plate to face Georgia’s Erin Arevalo, she had no way of knowing she would conclude the at-bat as the UK homerun record holder. After eyeing a pitch approaching the plate, Johnson lowered her shoulder and drove the ball deep over the outfield wall, thus securing her place in history.

The homerun notched not only her 10th of the season, but also the 32nd of her career, a new school record. This broke the deadlock atop the record sheet she held with former UK slugger Brooke Marnitz, who Johnson played alongside of during her freshman year.

“To take over the number one spot is fun, to say the least,” Johnson said. “I can remember watching Brooke and Katie (Campbell) play. I was amazed by their hitting ability. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to hit as many as Brooke did in one season (21), but it is great to be where I am now.”

Johnson said her capability to succeed at the plate came naturally.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say the record was something I had been striving for,” the All-American shortstop said. “Since the new coaching staff has been here, my power numbers have increased more than I thought they would. Our strength training has been a big part of it, too.”

The homerun category certainly is not the first time Johnson has seen her name ascend to the top of UK’s record books. She currently holds the school records for career batting average (.391), slugging percentage (.671) and doubles (51). Johnson also ranks in the top five all-time in six additional classifications: RBI (28), runs scored (140), total bases (401), assists (453), hits (234) and stolen bases (58).

The remainder of the season will serve as her final chance to capture additional accolades and build on her success with the Cats.

Additionally, Johnson was selected as a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award on Monday. The award, an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, is one of the most prestigious awards in collegiate sports. Johnson is one of 10 athletes remaining in the voting.

To be eligible for the award, an athlete must be an NCAA Division I senior and show excellence on and off the playing field. The award displays “community, classroom, character and competition” as the four areas covered by the grading criteria. It is geared towards driving student-athletes to make positive impacts in their communities using their athletic successes.

Each of the 10 athletes will be placed on an official ballot to be distributed and voted upon by fans, media and coaches. The winner of the award will be announced at the NCAA Women’s College World Series in June.

“Molly is such a tremendous athlete that her success comes as no surprise to me,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “The things that nobody sees are how hard she works in the weight room and how hard she works 12 months out of the year. The fact that she is able to achieve the things she is comes from her dedication off the field.”