Erin Coffel worries about wins, not historic numbers

Published 3:57 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

Senior shortstop Erin Coffel came into this season with a chance to reach historic numbers.

In 169 career games going into this season, she had 55 home runs, 179 RBI’s, 184 hits, 151 runs scored, 29 doubles, 108 walks and a slugging percentage off .762.

Her slugging percentage currently is No. 1 on UK’s all-time list and way above the .678 mark of No. 2 Abby Cheek. She hit four homers in her first 12 games this season and her 59 homers are only two behind Cheek, the all-time leader, and she’s also only 14 RBI from moving past Cheek into the No. 1 spot on that list.

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“I actually think she is a lot better than she was at the end of last year,” Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson said. “She can hit the ball in more zones. She is doing a great job barreling up on the ball and has tightened up holes in her swing.”

Before the season started, I had a chance to talk with the All-American about her career, goals and more.


Question: How much have you enjoyed playing for coach Rachel Lawson?

Coffel: “She has challenged me in a lot of different ways, but she has always been one of my biggest supporters. We have that good relationship where she challenges me but she also loves me. I think that is a special relationship. She is always going to be the first one to get on me but it is a mutual respect thing.”


Question: How do you handle the expectations of being a leader and also a great player?

Coffel: “I go into every single game one day at a time. I can’t look too far ahead. The overall goal is Oklahoma City (for the College World Series), but other than that you have to go one day at a time. By doing that you can’t look into the past, either. If you had a bad game the other day, so what. It is a new day. I think really being open minded about that and just being grateful for where I am at and playing every single game like it is my last is how I approach the season.”


Question: Does playing so many road games to open the season before playing a home game March 6 help with team bonding?

Coffel: “It is a really big thing for us. I personally always look forward to it because I love traveling and I think it does build a good relationship on the team. The days can be long and grueling sometimes, but at the end of the day we are there to play and win softball games. I think this is where your mental game is made strong. You get back on Sunday night and leave again on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. You have to make sure you are taking care of yourself.”


Question: Do you think anything at all about the historic numbers you are chasing this season?

Coffel: “I don’t really think about hitting home runs or any of the records or anything like that. That has been the story of my career. I just go out there, trust myself and whatever happens, happens.”


Question: So do you have any personal goals this year?

Coffel: “For me it is more mental than physical. Every single game is such a great opportunity on the national stage and you have to be your best but at the same time don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just be happy with where I am at and proving to everyone in the softball world we are the best and we are coming for you.”


Question: Do you ever think you would hear coach Lawson describing you as an elite defensive player?

Coffel: “It was always a goal of mine, but I don’t know about other people because everyone always sees me as a power hitter and not a defensive player. So I didn’t necessarily think I would hear that but I have really, really worked hard at that because I think defense is a lot of fun. When you don’t do well it can be a lot on your  mind. I have made sure these last four years I could be the best defensive player I could possibly be.”


Question: How have you improved the most defensively?

Coffel: “I think I’m really just understanding the game. As a freshman, you don’t think about a lot of things that they talk to you about like setting your angles or what this girl does on this pitch. You don’t think about those things — really digging into what a certain hitter does and trusting it without overthinking it.”