By LARRY VAUGHT
First baseman Mallory Peyton of Madisonville was having a banner junior year when Kentucky’s season was cancelled. She had a team-high 11 home runs in 24 games and had driven in 35 runs with a .379 batting average. She had even been hit by a pitch a team-high 10 times.
Before Autumn Humes decided to take advantage of a NCAA wavier to return for another senior season, Peyton was just one of three seniors scheduled to be on the team next year along with Lauren Johnson and Grace Baalman.
“I love this senior class, but there’s only three of them and all three of them are pretty quiet. The thing though is that Mallory Peyton is a great leader, and she’s developed into that,” Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson said.
“We do this 360-degree assessment and your peers assess each other, the coaches assess the players and the players assess the coaches, support staff, etc. One of the questions that was asked was who do you want in your foxhole and so a bunch of numbers came out and Mallory Peyton was actually the top vote-getter for who they would want in their foxhole.
“You don’t see her as the vocal, outgoing leader. You don’t see those things out of her, but she is definitely a tremendous leader, developed into it, somebody you can trust and someone you trust to do the right thing.”
Lawson especially likes one other trait Peyton has.
“She is incredibly honest. If you ask her something, you better be prepared,” the UK coach said. “She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She doesn’t give you what you want to hear, she gives you what you need to hear, and so she has been a tremendous leader for us.”
What about Johnson, who is from Owensboro? She hit .323 in 24 games and knocked in 17 runs, scored 16 runs and walked 13 times. She also moved from the outfield to shortstop.
“Everyone really gets along with LJ and she is a very quiet leader, more one-on-one. When you walk into the lounge, LJ is always there and there are always players talking to LJ and so she’s got a really subtle way about her,” the UK coach said.