LEXINGTON, Ky. — Nick Mingione said it twice on Monday afternoon, less than four minutes apart.
“We want to do things that have never been done here before.”
The first-year Kentucky baseball coach has brought limitless positivity to the program, and with it, wins. The Wildcats (21-8, 7-2 SEC) are tied for the best mark in the conference and have notched 19 wins in their last 22 games.
Kentucky recorded its third straight SEC series win over the weekend against No. 22 Vanderbilt to push its record at Cliff Hagan Stadium to 15-2. The Cats, who were picked by the coaches in the preseason to finish tied for fourth in the SEC East, are now leading it.
And although the Cats took two of three against the Commodores over the weekend, the mark wasn’t enough for Mingione.
“That should hurt,” he said. “It’s not good enough if we want to do something that’s never been done here before. Even though you won the series, we want to win every game. The fact that they believe that, and they feel that and it hurt them just shows how much they care.”
As far as the things never been done before, Mingione listed hosting and winning a regional and winning a super regional. And the ultimate prize — winning a national championship.
“We want to do all those things,” Mingione said. “Even in the classroom, I want us to be the academic team of the year for the second time. I want them to continue to serve more hours in the community than any team who’s done that before. I want to develop them in all phases. It’s not just on the field.”
“Student, person, player” is one of Mingione’s mantras.
Mingione, who grew up in Florida, spent the last eight seasons at Mississippi State before coming to Kentucky. It was a return of sorts after serving as John Cohen’s assistant coach at Kentucky from 2006-07. He then followed Cohen to Starkville, Miss.
“Since Day 1 he’s been an energizer and he’s really given us motivation,” senior shortstop Connor Heady said. “He’s really given us life in the program.”
Next up for Kentucky is a 6 p.m. ET Tuesday matchup at Louisville. The Cards have topped the Cats in the previous five meetings, and Louisville enters as the No. 2 club in the country.
Louisville has won 50 of its last 51 regular season home games.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we want to beat every team on our schedule,” Mingione said. “And tomorrow’s no different.”