Kentucky Freshman Erin Coffel Makes Undeniable Impact
Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson noticed Erin Coffel out of the corner of her eye as she slid passionately on the basepath.
When she was on the recruiting trail, Lawson saw Coffel on another field. She was drawn to the intensity that Coffel displayed, and started to follow her and make recruitment a priority.
“Kentucky was one of the first schools that ever really looked at me,” Coffel said. “They were the first team that I was like, ‘Oh, this is awesome. The SEC. Big Blue Nation.’ They were the first team that came to me, and they were loyal ever since, so it was an easy decision for me to come here.”
As a highly-touted freshman, Coffel immediately made a significant impact at a plate and in the infield with Kentucky.
She currently has a .378 batting average with 15 home runs—a single-season freshman record for Kentucky—and 48 RBI, which nears the single-season freshman record. Coffel sits in the Top 10 in the nation in both categories.
With a continued impressive run this season, Coffel could break the single-season overall record for home runs (21) and RBI (66) in program history.
Despite her undeniable success, Coffel remains grounded and extremely humble.
“I think just playing the game with these girls and just being on this team has been enough for me,” Coffel said. “I think (the success) just comes along with my hard work.”
When asked about that early success, Lawson pointed out that those accomplishments don’t just happen at a program like Kentucky and that Coffel is a special player.
“We have had a lot of really good players and former All-Americans play here, so if you break a record, you know that you have done something special,” Lawson said. “It was hard to place expectations on Erin because I knew how good she was, but with the COVID situation, it was hard to gauge how successful she would be against so many players in their fifth year of college as a true freshman.”
As a freshman, Coffel had to get acclimated to college softball quickly. With the COVID pandemic, there was a twist to that task, but Coffel said she has leaned on sophomore infielder Emmy Blane for support, which started in the summer quarantine.
Blane added that she and Coffel formed a friendship in the summer before the rest of the team was even back on Kentucky's campus. Blane started to help Coffel get acclimated to college and to softball, and those efforts have only continued throughout the season.
“Emmy Blane has been big for me on honestly everything in life, social life to school to softball,” Coffel said. “She has been my rock for basically everything. I go to her for advice, and she has been a huge, huge helper for me as well as all the upperclassmen.”
Blane praised Coffel and the success and recognition that she has earned early on in her freshman season, saying “there is no telling” how good she could become because she is always working relentlessly to improve.
“She is insane,” Blane said. “She has no business being a freshman. (Her success) is awesome, and she is so grounded and humble. She is just someone you want to root for.”
Blane had to add just how important Coffel is as a teammate as well.
“As a teammate, she is just somebody that makes everyone else around her better,” Blane said. “You see her never taking a rep off or her going the extra mile to get better, and that is just contagious for all of us.”
Despite her success, Coffel knows that she still has a lot to improve on this season and throughout the remainder of her career.
Coffel acknowledges that she isn’t “perfect at anything” and is just a freshman, which opens up a wide range of potential improvements for her like adjusting pitch-by-pitch and continuing to improve defensively at shortstop.
Lawson is confident that Coffel will do just that, and she echoed Blane, saying that the potential for Coffel is limitless.
“Erin is a great player, and we knew that from the moment she committed,” Lawson said. “I am normally pretty mellow when it comes to hyping up recruits because you never quite know how they will pan out, but Erin is different.
“We knew she was going to be special and we knew she was going to be a fan favorite of the Big Blue Nation. She is also an incredibly hard worker and she never settles, so with that mindset, who knows what the limit for her can be.”