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Kentucky’s Kayla Kowalik named No. 3 player in NCAA softball

List revealed by Extra Innings Softball
Kentucky left 12 runners on base in the game
Kentucky left 12 runners on base in the game(UK Athletics)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 3:39 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky All-American catcher Kayla Kowalik was named the No. 3 college softball player in the country headed into the 2022 season in a top-100 list unveiled by Extra Innings Softball on Tuesday. Shortstop Erin Coffel, fresh off a stint with the US National Team, was slotted at No. 69 as the second Wildcat to make the list.

Kowalik is the second-highest ranked Southeastern Conference player on the list, and the highest catcher in the country. The “Extra Elite 100″ includes 22 players from the SEC. The full list can be found here with a subscription to Extra Innings Softball.

Kowalik became the fifth member of the Kentucky All-American club, joining Molly Belcher (2009), Kelsey Nunley (2016), Katie Reed (2017) and Abbey Cheek (2019). Kowalik joins Nunley and Cheek as the three first-team selections in program history. The New Braunfels, Texas native had a stellar season for Kentucky hitting .495 on the year to lead the NCAA. She additionally led the nation in hits with 100 on the season, becoming the first UK player to ever log 100 hits in a single season. She caught all of Kentucky’s Southeastern Conference games in 2021, registering 11 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs and 37 RBI. Her 12 home runs were her first 12 home runs of her career, showing her increased power and strength. With all of the time she spend behind the plate, she has a tremendous .993 fielding percentage and threw out four base stealers, including a key out in the seventh inning vs. Notre Dame of the NCAA Lexington Regional final. Adding to her diversity as a player, Kowalik stole a team-high 23 stolen bases this season, swiping the most bases in a single season since Belcher’s 29 swiped bags in 2009. Her 27 walks combined with her batting average gave her a team-best .554 on-base percentage this season.

Coffel hit .337 on the season in 2021, her first as a Wildcat. The Bremen, Indiana native had 16 home runs and 56 runs batted in, both leading all Kentucky players. Coffel was the first-ever true freshman to start at shortstop in the 14-year tenure for head coach Rachel Lawson.  For her tremendous freshman season, Coffel was named Second Team All-Southeastern Conference, SEC All-Freshman and 2021 NFCA Second Team All-Region.

The sophomore standout had 11 multi-run games this season, and 14 multi-hit games. She tallied 25 extra-base hits, and a whopping five of the first six games this season were multi-hit games for Coffel in her freshman 2021 campaign.