Daly Hopes His Previous Omaha Experience Can Boost Cats

Daly Hopes His Previous Omaha Experience Can Boost Cats

by Tim Letcher

Mitchell Daly returned to a familiar site on Thursday. While Kentucky has never played a game in the College World Series in Omaha, Daly has. As a freshman in 2021, Daly’s Texas team made it to Omaha.

Now making a second trip, in addition to four consecutive trips to the Super Regionals, Daly has probably more postseason experience than anyone on the Kentucky roster. How can he help his teammates who have never experienced this event?

“One of the things I kind of just told a lot of the younger guys is to appreciate this because for a lot of them it’s their first college season, and my first time here I was a freshman as well,” Daly said. “I really didn’t appreciate how hard it is to get here. It took not going for me to really be, like, wow, this is special. That’s just what I’ve tried to tell them is just appreciate the moment, take everything in, and don’t take it for granted.”

Daly credited UK head coach Nick Mingione with preparing the team for what they would see once they got to Omaha.

“Coach Minge, after we won the super, just brought everybody together, and we just talked about what to expect and a lot of moments that we’re grateful for this season,” Daly said.

Upon his arrival in Lexington, Daly knew that Mingione and his staff had put together a special group of talented players. He told Mingione as much early on.

“I think I told Coach, you know, the day I got here when I looked around the locker room and saw the pieces that we had, I was confident that this was an Omaha-caliber team,” Daly said. “The whole team is just a bunch of winners, just a bunch of competitors, guys who do whatever it takes to win. That’s really been our identity all year is just doing whatever it takes to win and being on the attack. I wasn’t surprised when we won the super and now that we’re here, and I know that these guys aren’t satisfied.”

Daly and his teammates feel like, despite not having been to the College World Series before, that they are prepared for the competition they face. That’s because the Southeastern Conference is such a tough, 10-week grind.

“I would say in the SEC it feels like almost every game is a playoff atmosphere, playoff mentality going into it,” Daly said. “Every game is a grind. I don’t think we’re expecting anything less than that in this journey throughout playoffs and now into Omaha. We know that every team here is good. They’re going to give us their A-game. We’re prepared for that, and we’re excited.”

Daly and the Cats got to be on the field at Charles Schwab Field on Thursday and Daly believes that helped Kentucky get rid of any nerves that were still remaining.

“I would say we’re all just ready to get playing. I think definitely this first practice knocked the jitters off for a lot of people. I think everybody was just excited to get on the field, feel the dirt, see the scenery around. Everybody is just ready to go, I would say, is a great word — great phrase to describe it.”

Daly is already using his previous College World Series experience to help the 2024 Cats. That can only be beneficial as UK plays its first CWS game ever on Saturday against N.C. State.

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