By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Sarah Stone never wavered, never veered from her original commitment. So much for the cliche of women changing their minds often and on a whim.
Bedford North Lawrence’s senior star stayed the course. She verbally committed to the University of Kentucky in January of 2018, a precocious freshman with unlimited potential, and now she has signed the dotted line on her national letter of intent, officially making her a Wildcat.
Stone, a slugger and multi-talented defender, will join one of the nation’s power programs. Kentucky has become a force in the Southeastern Conference and a Super Regional regular under coach Rachel Lawson. That’s why Stone chose the Wildcats over Auburn, Indiana, Notre Dame, Ohio State and other potential recruiting pursuers.
“Never a doubt,” Stone said. “Rachel Lawson is one of the best coaches. I feel like she’s the best fit for me.”
Stone, before she even stepped foot on the diamond for the Stars, attracted so much attention from her travel ball success. Her power stats, and her versatility to catch or play multiple positions in the infield and outfield, demand that.
For the Stars, she hit .603 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs as a freshman in 2018. She followed that by hitting .456 with 7 HRs and 36 RBIs in 2019. Her junior season was wiped out by the COVID-19 shutdown last spring, although she was able to return to travel competition with the Bandits last summer.
“I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to continue to play, even through COVID-19, and getting the opportunity to play the sport I love,” Stone said. “Obviously my strength is my stick, how I can hit, how I analyze situations and place balls where they need to be placed.”
Lawson, now in her 14th season with the Wildcats, has led her program to one appearance in the WCWS, seven Super Regionals during the last nine seasons, and an NCAA Tournament berth 11 straight times. UK also recently opened the $9.5 million John Cropp Stadium, one of the nation’s top softball facilities. Kentucky was 20-4 last season when all NCAA sports were cancelled on March 13.
Stone, after completing her career with the Stars this spring, will join the Wildcats in July of 2021. Her three-year wait is almost over.
“I always knew it would come eventually, but I didn’t think it would come so fast,” she said. “That feels like it was yesterday (when she verbally committed). As a freshman, I was told it goes by fast. And honestly, I feel like my high school career has surpassed me so quickly.”