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Kentucky Baseball Built Foundation for Future Success

Nick Roushby:Nick Roush06/19/24

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The 2024 Kentucky baseball season ended at a place the program had never been before, Omaha. The Wildcats came up short of their ultimate goal, but made plenty of history in the process, taking this program into a new stratosphere.

“This is where you want to end your season,” head coach Nick Mingione said after the loss. “This is not how you want to end your season but this is where you want to end your season.”

The Bat Cats had lofty goals in the preseason and nearly achieved them all. Kentucky won a share of a SEC Regular Season Championship for just the second time in program history. That paved the way for Kentucky to achieve a few firsts. The Wildcats hosted a Super Regional and after knocking on the wall three different times with Mingione, they finally pushed it down to reach the elusive College World Series.

“Everyone was committed to our goal,” said centerfielder Nolan McCarthy. “We’ve had this goal of going to Omaha, winning a national championship. We fell a little short. But from the freshmen who got 15 ABs locked in doing a chart on every pitch, just giving it their all. They emptied their tank. Everyone emptied their tank.

“That’s what was special about this team. Everyone cared so much and they would empty the tank no matter if they were playing every day, hitting .350, or if they weren’t even on the roster, doing what they could do to make us better. Everyone bought in, unselfish. That’s what made the team special.”

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The Bat Cats believed they could do something never done before. It’s going to be significantly easier for the next Kentucky baseball team to believe they can reach a College World Series because they know it’s possible.

For years, the Kentucky baseball program was told it couldn’t succeed as the northern-most team in the SEC. They didn’t have the facilities or the fanbase to keep up with the rest of the pack. Tell that to the sold-out crowds at Kentucky Proud Park. Nick Mingione proved so many people wrong, myself included, and transformed the Kentucky baseball program into a winner, one that isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

There’s no reason that this program can’t stay at the top and be among this group every single year,” said senior pitcher Ryan Hagenow.

“With the staff that we have, all around, not just coaching staff, training staff, our equipment manager — I’m close with everybody — and with the stadium and the fanbase we have and Coach Minge leading the way, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t continue to have success. It takes years to build that foundation. But I think we definitely built it.”

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