Cats Focused on Themselves as Super Regional Begins

Cats Focused on Themselves as Super Regional Begins

by Tim Letcher

Beginning on Saturday, the Kentucky baseball team will host an NCAA Baseball Super Regional for the first time in program history. The Cats face Oregon State in a best two-of-three series, with the winner advancing to Omaha for the College World Series.

Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione and his staff have been preparing for Oregon State all week. Mingione is impressed with the Beavers.

“I would say they’re multidimensional,” Mingione said. “When you look at even in the leadoff spot, he can bunt. He can bunt, he can steal bases, and that’s pretty similar up and down the lineup. They can lay down bunts, they can hit homers, they can move the ball. They have good at-bats, guys that can hit.”

The OSU attack starts with Golden Spikes Award finalist Travis Bazzana. The native of Australia is hitting .415 and Mingione knows that his team will need to be focused to get Bazzana out.

“Obviously respect him,” Mingione said. “We respect all of our opponents, but we don’t fear anyone, but at the same time we have to be smart on how we go about attacking him.”

While the UK staff has spent plenty of time looking at Oregon State on video, Mingione knows that the Cats are at their best when they are focused on taking care of what’s in front of them.

“Obviously for us, we do a great job of preparing for our opponents, but at the same time, we’re more concerned about us executing whatever the game demands,” Mingione said. “Whatever that might be, I feel confident that our players have been prepared and that we’ll be ready for whatever the game shoots at them this weekend.

“That’s one of the beauties of this team is, with all due respect, we’re at our best when we’re just focused on doing what we can control, and really we can’t control what you or anybody else think or say. We have no control over that,” Mingione said. “These guys are at their best, focus their time, effort and energy on things they can control like the way they go about their practice, the way they go about their schoolwork, the way they go about their diets, the way they go about the teammates they are, by the way they compete on the field. They have control over that, and that’s one thing they’ve been awesome at. That’s just another good example of it.”

For some of the Cats, this will be their first experience playing in the Super Regionals. Mingione knows there will be nerves, but not fear, for the UK players.

“I also told them, hey, some of you will have some nerves. That’s okay,” Mingione said. “That’s different than being scared. There’s a difference between having nerves and being scared. We will not be scared, with all due respect to our opponent and the enormity of the games. But we’re not going to play scared. We don’t do that. But if you have some nerves, that’s okay. You’re doing something that’s important. That’s totally fine. But we made sure that we drew a line in the sand today before practice started. There’s a difference between having nerves and being scared, and my team, we will not be scared. Have nerves, absolutely. But there’s a difference.”

The Cats are focused on themselves and what’s in front of them as they play in perhaps the most important game in program history on Saturday.

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