Ryan Hagenow Having Huge Impact On UK Baseball Both On and Off Field

Ryan Hagenow Having Huge Impact On UK Baseball Both On and Off Field

by Tim Letcher

When the Kentucky baseball staff was recruiting pitcher Ryan Hagenow, they thought that he could be an impact player for the program. Hagenow was ranked as the 26th-best player in the country during his senior year in high school, so he figured to be a key component to the UK squad for the next four years.

Hagenow, who is now a senior, has been a huge contributor to the Kentucky program, although not necessarily in the way that was first anticipated. During his time in Lexington, Hagenow has appeared in 55 games and has a 7-3 overall record with five career saves.

However, ask anyone on the UK team or coaching staff and they will tell you that he’s as important as anyone on the roster.

Last season, Hagenow was assigned the role as dugout captain. For anyone who has seen the UK dugout this season, it’s apparent that Hagenow is assuming a big role by taking on that position due to the antics that the Cats pull off every game. However, UK head coach Nick Mingione knew that Hagenow was just the man for the job.

“Just a year ago at Southern Illinois, we were not happy with the way the team was competing and I have him the key to the Lexus,” Mingione said. “And just basically told him, this is yours, you’re driving this dugout. From now on, I’m not getting upset with anyone in this dugout. It falls on your shoulders. Do you understand? Really, from that day on, if I or any of our coaches need anything, I just go to him. He just runs that dugout. So not only is he performing on the field, think about the impact he’s making in the dugout.”

What made Hagenow the right person to take on such a responsibility?

“How much he cares,” Mingione said. “You could not give that responsibility to someone who just doesn’t care. So when you look at how engaged our dugout is and how they’re locked in and getting fans involved, everything. He just cares so much and when someone cares that much, you just want to give it to them because you know that they are going to take a great deal of pride and responsibility in it. We would not be where we are without this guy. The impact he is goes far beyond the field. It’s off the field as well.”

The coaching staff believes in Hagenow, but so do his teammates. Shortstop Grant Smith sang Hagenow’s praises when asked about his impact on the team.

“He’s a vital piece to this team,” Smith said. “Four-year guy who’s been here since the beginning, he’s seen it all. He’s a staple to our team. There’s a reason he’s the dugout captain.”

As for Hagenow, he considers it an honor to be chosen to lead his teammates in the dugout.

“It means a lot because I think it’s more than just a dugout captain,” Hagenow said. “I think it’s somebody that can keep the vibes open in the dugout and being the person others can rely on means a lot to me.”

While Hagenow may not have made the huge contributions he was hoping to make on the field, he feels rewarded by his impact on this program.

“I think college has helped me realize that I’m a lot more than just baseball,” Hagenow said. “At first, I was basing whether I was happy or not on my results. I was getting injured and stuff like that, so that wasn’t working very well. Once I realized that I could have a bigger impact in the locker room and with the team as well as on the field, that stuff kind of stopped mattering as much to me. A lot of people from outside may look at it and see it as unsuccessful, but I feel like I’ve grown a lot and become a better person. I love the leadership role.”

As the Cats host an NCAA Baseball Super Regional for the first time, Hagenow will continue to be the leader in the dugout and will continue to have a huge impact on this program both on and off the field.

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