Coffel ready to improve on already excellent career

Published 2:00 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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Going into her junior season, shortstop Erin Coffel has already hit 36 home runs, driven in 124 runs, and pounded out 129 hits while .372 with a .762 slugging percentage. She’s on pace to break Abbey Cheek’s all-time career home run mark of 61 and RBI record of 202.

“She was outstanding last year (when she hit .423 with 20 homers and 68 RBIs), and everybody is going to avoid (pitching to) her this year. We have to find somebody to protect her in the lineup like (Renee) Abernathy did last year,” UK coach Rachel Lawson said.

Lawson said as good as Coffel was last year, she did have some holes in her swing that enabled pitchers to get her out.

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“She’s better this year. Now the only time she’s getting out is when she gets herself out,” the UK coach said. “Her power is better. Eyes are better. She is really, really good.”

Coffel was a rare freshman who started at shortstop and had 17 errors in 2021. She was an “athlete who played shortstop” then, but that has changed.

“Now she is one of the best defensive shortstops I have ever seen. I have yelled at her to be better, but now I have to invent ways to get on her,” Lawson said. “She’s had great coaching from my staff but also her dad and everybody back home. She’s just hit a new gear this year for us.”

Kentucky opens its season on Feb. 10 at the NFCA Lead-Off Classic in Clearwater, Fla., with games against St. John’s and Louisville.