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Nick Mingione opens up about overcoming struggles after Super Regional win

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager06/10/24

DanielHagerKSR

Kentucky’s Super Regional clinching victory over Oregon State Sunday night was the result of long nights and years of overcoming adversity for head coach Nick Mingione.

Mingione, who has been the head coach at Kentucky since 2017, opened up postgame about the struggles he had to overcome when he was at his lowest.

“2022 was a really hard time for me,” Mingione said postgame. “It was a really difficult time. I want to share some things of why, and maybe you’ll see a side of me that you haven’t seen. Cole Stupp and Darren Williams both go down. I can tell you that one of the worst feelings as a coach is to have one of your players get injured. It crushes me personally and it crushes this woman to my left.”

Stupp had started six games in the 2022 season before going down with a forearm injury. Williams made nine appearances prior to his arm injury, including two consecutive starts before requiring Tommy John surgery.

Even with those injuries to two of their best arms, the Cats rallied to win seven of their final 10 games, including a run to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. It however wasn’t quite enough to get Mingione’s team into the postseason, marking the fourth consecutive missed NCAA Tournament for Kentucky.

Kentucky baseball - College World Series
(Aaron Perkins | Kentucky Sports Radio)

“I’m going to tell you this, we went on this great run,” Mingione said. “We were one win short. We were one win short. We finished fourth in the SEC Tournament for the first time ever. It was the best finish, but we were one win short. But earlier in that year, I had dark nights. Devin [Burkes], or Nolan [McCarthy] paid me a compliment and I did the best I could holding it together. But I was really crushed as a coach. I was hurting like I’ve never hurt before. God taught me a valuable lesson. I did something that I’ve only done two other times in my life and I surrendered. I just finally said, Lord, I’m done. I’m done.”

Mingione credited one important move with turning around the whole program; moving assistant coach Nick Ammirati from third base coach to the dugout while he assumed third base coach duties. Since then, Kentucky has experienced more success than in any other time period in program history.

“I cannot do this on my own anymore,” Mingione said. “The Lord put it on my heart that I was not using my spiritual gifts that he’s given me, and he basically — we have to make changes. I had to make changes. One major change we made was we brought Nick Ammirati from coaching third base to the dugout to be with the players. And it put me at third base. I started coaching third base on May 15th of 2022. I started coaching third base and I put Ammo in there. You can’t make this up. I surrendered. I surrendered.”

Since that change, Kentucky has made back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, back-to-back Super Regionals, it won a share of an SEC Regular Season Championship, and is heading to the College World Series for the first time in program history.

“That’s what I did,” Mingione said. “I said, Lord, I’m done this battle belongs to you. From that day, on May 15th, you can check the stats. In the regular season only, we have more wins than any team in the SEC since that day. You can’t make this up. Only God can make this up. And people told me it would be impossible for Kentucky to make it to Omaha. I literally had people tell me that. And that day I surrendered, and this is what the Lord has done.”

Mingione’s interview on ESPNU was equally as moving as he thanked Mitch Barnhart for taking a chance on him back in 2017.

Kentucky’s season will continue this weekend, when it makes its first EVER trip to the College World Series. It won its 45th game of the season Sunday night, which is tied for the most in a single season in school history.


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2024-06-23