"LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Head coach Rachel Lawson, associate head coach Kristine Himes, assistant coach Molly Johnson-Belcher and volunteer assistant coach Kara Dill of the University of Kentucky have been voted as the NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year the Association announced on Wednesday.
It was truly an historic 2014 season for Kentucky as the Wildcats tallied a UK-record 50 victories, earned the program’s first-ever Women’s College World Series berth, defeated a school record 15 ranked teams during the season and finished the year ranked No. 6 in the final USA Today/NFCA national poll. Entering the annual Southeastern Conference tournament as the seventh seed, the Wildcats caught fire, advancing all the way to the title game. That postseason momentum carried over to UK’s run through the NCAA tournament as the Blue & White won the Lexington Regional before venturing out to knock-off No. 2 UCLA in the best-of-three Los Angeles Super Regional. Kentucky christened its first WCWS trip by topping Louisiana-Lafayette before being eliminated via consecutive defeats to eventual national finalist Alabama and Baylor.
Having just completed her seventh year in charge of the Wildcat program, Lawson has taken Kentucky from just 17 victories during her initial campaign in 2008 to the lofty heights of a 2014 season that witnessed UK’s first 50-win effort and initial WCWS berth. Already the winningest head coach in UK history, she has registered 244 triumphs, guided the Blue & White to three NCAA Super Regionals over the past four years as well as berths in the past six NCAA tournaments and already owns more SEC wins than the ‘Cats had combined prior to her arrival at the helm.
For their work this season, Lawson, Himes, Johnson-Belcher and Dill also reaped the NFCA Southeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year award.