Seniors relish final games as Cats

By Bobby Reagan

The 2008 campaign for the UK softball team is coming to an end, as are the careers of five seniors.

Starting today, the Cats (16-31, 3-19 Southeastern Conference) will host their final two opponents at the UK Softball Complex this season. UK will face Eastern Kentucky today at 5 p.m. before a three-game set with Georgia this weekend.

The Cats weren’t given much credit by SEC voters at the beginning of the season with most preseason polls picking UK to finish dead last in the conference. Much to the chagrin of the Cats, the polls have been right, as UK has posted just a 3-19 record in the conference.

But despite UK’s struggles this season, seniors Audrey Meyer, Samantha Allen, Megan Jolly, Ashley Dimkich and Lindsay Brogdon will play their final games in blue and white with the belief that they’ve pointed the program in the right direction.

Although they have a combined record of 77-139, Dimkich said they have jumpstarted the program, which is only in its 12th year of existence.

“We have taken steps in the right direction, especially with coach (Rachel) Lawson, who is a great teacher of the game,” Dimkich said. “This program will be competing for SEC titles in the coming years.”

The Cats won’t be taking home any hardware this year for the regular season and likely won’t have the chance to compete in the SEC Tournament in Baton Rouge, La. Because only the top eight teams from the conference make the trip, the Cats would essentially have to win every remaining game and hope the teams ahead of them lose nearly every game.

That’s disappointing news to Dimkich and the seniors, but she said the Cats should be back into postseason play “in the next couple of years.”

The seniors realize their days are numbered as Cats, but they said they will never forget the experience — from the grueling 6 a.m. workouts to the frequent road trips.

“I’m not ready for this to end, but I know I can always look back at memories and think of the good times,” Meyer said. “Some of my best friends are the four other girls that are seniors with me this year.”

Meyer said despite coming in two years later than the rest of her class — she’s a junior-college transfer — she was welcomed with open arms and now finds it hard to grasp that they’re all leaving.

“This year has gone by faster then I could have ever imagined,” Meyer said. “I feel like I could look back to yesterday and I’m moving into Kentucky and getting to know these girls.”

UK hasn’t had many positive memories as far as the scoreboard goes of late — the Cats have won just three of their last 24 games — but many of UK’s struggles can be attributed to a wealth of injuries and a depleted roster.

When the Cats were healthy, they stormed off to a 13-10 start, proving the seniors were turning the program into a legitimate threat for years to come, Dimkich said.

While a disappointing finish might not show the national pundits how far the program has come, Dimkich said critics need to look no farther than UK’s upset over then-No. 6 Tennessee on March 15 to see how much the Cats have improved.

“That game is probably the one that sticks out of all the games in my four years here,” Dimkich said. “We were able to turn some heads, and teams started taking us seriously.”