Kentucky Baseball Continues Climb Up National Ladder

Kentucky Baseball Continues Climb Up National Ladder

by Tim Letcher

On Monday, the Kentucky baseball program learned that it would be hosting an NCAA Baseball regional for the second consecutive season. The Cats earned the number two overall seed in the 2024 version of the event, meaning that if UK wins the Lexington Regional, it would host the winner of the Corvallis Regional in the super regionals the following weekend.

For a program that does not have a ton of postseason history, hosting regionals in two straight seasons is quite an accomplishment. Kentucky is one of only five teams to host NCAA Baseball regionals in both 2023 and 2024 (Arkansas, Clemson, Oklahoma State and Virginia are the others). This will be the fourth time that Kentucky has hosted an NCAA Baseball regional (2006, 2017, 2023 and 2024). The Cats will welcome Western Michigan, Indiana State and Illinois to Kentucky Proud Park with action beginning on Friday.

Kentucky has won 40 games this season, marking a second straight campaign with at least 40 wins. That has never happened in the program’s history. The Cats won the Southeastern Conference, which is by far the best league in the country, for just the second time in school history. And the number two overall seed is the highest in program history.

The maestro behind all of this success is UK head coach Nick Mingione. Kentucky has reached new heights, and continues to do so, under Mingione’s direction. How has he been able to do it?

“We have assembled so many amazing people in the program,” Mingione said. “And when people come to this facility and they have recruiting visits and they walk around and see this place and the things and the people. I remind them not to miss the best part about it – the people who are in it. It is truly a special place.”

Mingione and his staff want the players do excel in school and on the field. The UK head coach knows that the experiences that players have will be what sticks with them through the years.

“(Mingione’s wife) Christen and I have always said that about Reeves (Mingione’s son). We don’t want to give him things, we want to give him experiences,” Mingione said. “That’s what he will remember for the rest of his life. He will remember experiences. He’ll remember sitting down in that room at that selection show and looking up and seeing Kentucky as the number two seed. He’ll remember that.

“Our players will remember winning that (Southeastern Conference) championship on that Friday night here at Kentucky Proud Park,” Mingione said. “They’ll remember that. They’ll remember seeing their names pop up as the number two national seed. They’ll remember this postseason. We’re in the business of making an impact on people’s lives and when you hear them say it, it means a lot.”

It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies for Mingione. There were certainly challenging times during his time at UK.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Mingione said. “I think we’ve all gotten better – coaches, staff, players, we’ve all learned. It’s just a lot of time and effort and intentional effort has gone into it.”

That time and effort, combined with making a player’s experience special, has produced great results for the Kentucky program. The latest example came with Monday’s announcement.

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