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Gary Henderson headed to Mississippi State

(Chet White, UK Athletics)

(Chet White, UK Athletics)

Earlier this week, Kentucky hired Mississippi State assistant Nick Mingione as its new head baseball coach, and now, it looks like Kentucky’s former head baseball coach is headed to Mississippi State to be an assistant. According to the Clarion-Ledger, Gary Henderson is nearing a deal to join John Cohen’s staff at Mississippi State as pitching coach. Henderson held the same position when Cohen was the coach at Kentucky from 2004-2008.

Henderson resigned on June 1 after eight seasons. He leaves UK with a 258-199 record, which includes two NCAA Tournament appearances (2012, 2014).

[Clarion-Ledger]


New $45-million baseball facility in the works

New $45-million baseball facility in the works

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As if there’s not enough construction around campus already, there is about to be a lot more once the university breaks ground on a brand spankin’ new baseball facility to go along with its new coach.

During the introductory press conference for Nick Mingione, the new skipper, Mitch Barnhart said they have already spent about $4 million on a design for a new facility.

“We’re in that process,” said Barnhart. “We have spent about $4 million in design. We’re in it. We’re heavily invested in it.”

The project will go to the Board of Trustees this fall, and if it is approved, things will get underway immediately after football season.

Barnhart went on to explain its location on campus:

We’re putting the stadium where a parking lot currently is. So we’ll use that through the football season. That will give us time to get the contract signed.

I want to repeat, it’s part of an overarching university plan. The strategic plan has changed a couple times since I’ve been at Kentucky. The initial plan was for the stadium to stay where it was. As time has gone on, that plan has changed a little bit.

So the footprint of the stadium will now be moved to Alumni Drive, above where the soccer stadium is. It will replace the soccer practice field. In its place will go the tennis facility. The tennis facility will move from where it currently is and go to where baseball currently sits. That will free up that entire area for the university to do some things they desire to do, whether that is rec space, parking. It’s part of an overarching master plan of the university. It benefits everybody. It gets us an athletic village on the outside of the perimeter of campus, about 12,000 cars that drive by it every day, which is very helpful to us, especially for the sports that compete outdoors. It gives us a chance to have some parking availability that’s a little tougher for us in the internal part of campus and frees some things up for everyone else. That’s the goal.

Barnhart estimates the final price tag to be around $45 million in total. It will take 16 months to construct, assuming the board gives it the thumbs up later this year.


LIVE STREAM: Nick Mingione Introductory Press Conference


Mingione signing new contract on flight to Lexington

Mingione signing new contract on flight to Lexington

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Mitch Barnhart flew to Starkville to personally pick up Nick Mingione, UK’s new head baseball coach. Mingione then signed his new deal while on the flight back to Lexington for his first press conference, scheduled for 6 pm tonight.

It's official. Nick Mingione signing his contract to be Kentucky baseball head coach.

A photo posted by UK Athletics (@ukathletics) on

Huge congrats to Mingione on getting out of Starkville.


Today’s podcast with Matthew Mitchell is now available

Today’s show is now available online for those who were unable to catch it live. Of course, Matthew Mitchell was our special guest host, and he brought on several other special guests to help him out, including Rich Brooks and new UK Hoops assistant, Lin Dunn.

You can listen to the entire show below via today’s podcast:


Mingione Returns To Kentucky

Mingione Returns To Kentucky

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Photo by Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress

UK ended their coaching search this afternoon with the hiring of Nick Mingione from Mississippi State. Mingione was an assistant at UK from 2006-07,  a term including the schools only SEC Championship. This is a solid hire by Mitch Barnhart and the entire athletic department.

Many fans will remember Mingione as a coach from a dynamite staff that included John Cohen, Brad Bohannon, and Gary Henderson. The 2006 team won the school’s first SEC Championship and hosted a regional. Following the stint of success, Mingione left to be the recruiting coordinator for Western Carolina before joining Cohen at MSU in 2009.

With a very supportive athletic department, Cohen and Mingione built a powerhouse in the SEC West. Mississippi State won two SEC titles and went to the finals of the College World Series once while Mingione was an assistant. Even more impressive than that is the players that he helped to recruit and develop in his time as an assistant. Mingione worked with several outfielders that turned out to be studs in Starkville before excelling as pros.

Mingione coached one of my favorite players to ever come through the SEC in Hunter Renfroe. A first round pick of the Padres, Renfroe was an outfielder on the MSU team that went to the CWS in 2013. According to MSU Athletics, Mingione has seen 53 players be selected in the MLB Draft. That number had several names added last week, including first round pick Dakota Hudson.

MSU has been a top level program since Cohen took over, so getting a disciple of his is a great hire. Several assistants have left MSU for head coaching gigs recently, including Butch Thompson to Auburn. Mingione has never had a head coaching job, but this is still the right move for UK. Mingione seems excited to get to work at UK as soon as possible.

“This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed about for more than a decade,” Mingione said. “From the moment I first stepped foot on campus I knew it would be a place I could call home. What an incredible feeling to be back. Kentucky is a special place and this baseball program has had great moments over the years, including some that I have been a part of. I can’t wait to get to work on building toward an even brighter future.”

There are several reasons that this a great hire for the program. Mingione has a great reputation as a recruiter and a developer of talent. He is the kind of coach that will build a staff around him that promotes a winning attitude. Cohen is known as a program builder, and Mingione will bring in that kind of attitude next season at UK. Another reason this is a great hire is because Mingione gets the most out of his players. In 16 years of coaching, Mingione has had 189 SEC Honor Roll Members and three SEC Scholar Athletes of the Year. The guys he brings in tend to succeed when they get on campus and stay consistent throughout their time in college.

The hiring of Nick Mingione caught me a little off guard, but I really like the decision. Mingone is only 38 years old and brings an atmosphere of success with him to Lexington.

We will have more coverage of the BatCats’ new coach as the week progresses. For consistent updates, follow @TreyHuntsmanKSR.


In advance of guest hosting gig on KSR, Matthew Mitchell thanks fans for support

Tomorrow, Matthew Mitchell will once against fill in as a guest host, not an easy task given the turnover and turmoil surrounding the UK Hoops program in recent months. Things seem to be back on track for the women’s program, and in turn, Mitchell posted a Facebook message thanking fans for an overwhelming show of support in recent weeks.

“We’ve been working hard the last few weeks in getting a staff in place and spending significant time with our current and future players. We’re very excited about the positive things that are happening in our program. Each and every day, we have been overwhelmed by the supportive emails, text messages, phone calls, letters, etc. I’ve read them and they have strengthened me more than you will ever know.”

Mitchell goes on to describe his love for the program and its fans, which he says hasn’t wavered since he first stepped on campus thirteen years ago.

“Since the moment I first stepped foot on campus as an assistant coach in 2003, I knew this place was special and different from other places I had been. That has never been more clear to me than the unwavering support we have received the past few months. From stopping me in the grocery to a simple handwritten note, your support has strengthened me, my family and our program.”

To read the entire note, check out Mitchell’s Facebook page. Then set a reminder to tune in to tomorrow’s show from 10 a.m. to noon.

This will be one you don’t want to miss.


UK makes Mingione as head baseball coach official

We shared the news with you earlier, but Nick Mingione to Kentucky is now official. The school announced the news via press release a few minutes ago, featuring quotes from Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, Mingione, and former UK coach John Cohen, who Mingione worked under while an assistant at UK from 2006-2007.

Here’s the press release in all its glory:

“Nick Mingione is exactly the kind of coach we hoped to hire when we began our search,” Barnhart said. “His passion, tactical mind and tireless recruiting efforts made him an important part of Mississippi State’s staff during some great years for the program. More than that, he is a man of substance who is committed not only to developing young men as baseball players, but as students and people. We are excited to welcome Nick, his wife, Christen, and son, Reeves, to the UK Athletics family.”

Mingione takes over the Kentucky program after serving as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Cohen at Mississippi State starting before the 2009 season. Working with the team’s outfielders, first basemen and hitters, Mingione helped lead MSU to an incredible run of success, including the program’s first Southeastern Conference regular-season championship since 1989 this season, a runner-up finish in the College World Series in 2013 and an SEC Tournament championship in 2012.

“This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed about for more than a decade,” Mingione said. “From the moment I first stepped foot on campus I knew it would be a place I could call home. What an incredible feeling to be back. Kentucky is a special place and this baseball program has had great moments over the years, including some that I have been a part of. I can’t wait to get to work on building toward an even brighter future.

“I want to thank President (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch for entrusting the program to me, John (Cohen) for the mentorship that has prepared me for this moment and the unending support of my family, especially my wife, Christen.”

Prior to his time at Mississippi State, Mingione spent two seasons at UK as an assistant under Cohen in 2006-07. UK won 33 SEC games in those two seasons, including in 2006 when UK claimed its first SEC championship. After the historic regular season, the Wildcats hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time. Mingione worked extensively at UK with the likes of Collin Cowgill and John Shelby III.

Mingione has a sterling reputation as a recruiter. Over the nine seasons at Kentucky and Mississippi State for which recruiting rankings are final, he has helped land classes with an average ranking of 14th, including top-three classes in 2013-15. He also has an unmatched track record of player development, coaching 64 players selected in the MLB Draft, as well as 36 All-Americans and five conference players of the year.

(more…)


REPORT: Kentucky hires Mississippi State assistant Nick Mingione as head baseball coach

Breaking news! According to Chris Jung of the Kentucky New Era, Kentucky has hired Mississippi State assistant Nick Mingione as its new head baseball coach.

Mingione has been an assistant at Mississippi State since 2009, and before that, served as an assistant at UK from 2006-2007. According to his bio on HailState.com, Mingione excels at developing players, working with 53 MLB Draft picks, 35 All-Americans, and 5 conference players of the year over his 14-year coaching career. At Mississippi State, Mingione was the third base coach and recruiting coordinator, overseeing nine nationally-ranked classes, including three-straight top-10 classes in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He’s won seven conference championships, coached in five College World Series and has been a national championship finalist twice, the latest of which came in 2013.

During his time at Kentucky under then-coach John Cohen, Mingione helped the Bat Cats go from worst to first in his first year, taking their record from 29-27 (7-22 SEC) in 2005 to 44-17 (20-10 SEC) in 2006. The season culminated in the school’s first SEC championship, giving UK its most successful campaign in the 100-plus year history of the program.

The 37-year-old is a Cape Coral, Florida native with a wife, Christen, and son, Reeves. He will replace Gary Henderson, who resigned after eight seasons as head coach on June 1.

COACHING CAREER
2001: Assistant Coach, Mariner High School
2002: Assistant Coach, Florida Gulf Coast
2003-05: Assistant Coach, Embry-Riddle
2006-07: Assistant Coach, Kentucky
2008: Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Western Carolina
2009-Present: Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Mississippi State


A National Champion in Women’s Track and Field

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn is a National Champion.  She staked a claim at her crown by running the 100m hurdles in 12.54.  It’s the second consecutive year a Wildcat has won the event.

What’s more amazing?  She’s only a freshman, taking home the SEC’s Freshman Runner of the Year Award at the conclusion of the regular season.  Here’s her victory lap:

The men have faired pretty well too.  Yesterday Nick Anderson was the runner-up in the 110m hurdles.


Another BatCat is Drafted

The MLB Draft has reached Day Three, providing more professional opportunities for Wildcats.  Relief pitcher Dustin Beggs has been selected in the 16h round by the Miami Marlins.

I’m a fan of Beggs, but not because he is an exceptional pitcher.  Beggs has two things I covet.

  1. Hair that’s best categorized as “The Flow of the Century”
  2. The GOAT of Twitter handles, @dbizzzzle

Good luck to D-Bizzzzle at the next level.

In other news from the diamond, the state high school softball and baseball tournaments are currently underway.  St. X made the baseball Final Four in miraculous fashion.

With the game tied in the bottom of the 7th, Sam Mudd took the plate as the Tigers lead-off hitter.  Mudd ended West Jessamine’s season with a walk-off solo shot over the left field fence.  It’s a bummer for West Jessamine, but luckily there isn’t a video surfacing around the internet, keeping the salt from piling on the open wound.


JaVon Shelby Fails MLSB Drug Test

JaVon Shelby

Kentucky third baseman JaVon Shelby tested positive for Adderall in the Major League Scouting Bureau’s Drug Testing before Thursday’s MLB Draft. Adderall is a prescribed drug for ADHD that helps to helps those with the disorder to focus. It is on the banned substance list as a performance enhancer.

Shelby will most likely hear his name called in the first ten rounds of the Draft on Thursday. Baseball America has Shelby listed as the 260th best prospect eligible for the Draft. When his swing is on, Shelby can move quickly through the zone with solid power. Shelby dropped down draft boards after he struggled to make plays at third and saw his strikeouts grow late in 2016.

Several top prospects have failed drug tests before the Draft for Adderral, but it rarely affects their stock. Shelby loading up too early in his zone will be a much larger issue for scouts.


UK Fan of the Day wants Afternoon Notes and Today’s Podcast

UK Fan of the Day wants Afternoon Notes and Today’s Podcast

@Timbiggs2tim

@Timbiggs2tim

Tim Couch is on the Hall of Fame Ballot

10,000 National Football Foundation members received a College Football Hall of Fame ballot this week.  They have until June 20th to select Tim Couch because Couch > Crouch.  The new members will be announced on January 6, 2017.  To see the entire ballot, click here.

LT with his Old QB

It’s a picture from a few weekends ago, and I’m upset it took me this long to see Coach Lamar Thomas with his old Miami quarterback, Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

@CoachLamarT

@CoachLamarT

Football Women’s Clinic Registration is Open

On Saturday July 23 the Kentucky football team will once again open its doors for the lovely ladies of the Big Blue Nation.  There will be drills, pep talks from coaches and a uniform modeling session from the players, but most importantly, you will be the first to see the Cats’ new training center.  Don’t waste time; register here.

Honors for Stars in Other UK Sports

Kelsey Nunley became the UK softball program’s first ever NFCA First Team All-American as one of five pitchers in the nation to earn the prestigious honor.  The SEC Pitcher of the Year was also named a Senior CLASS Award First Team All-American.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of the women’s track and field team was named SEC Freshman Runner of the Year after taking home the title in the 100 meter hurdles, running the second-fastest time in meet history.

Kash Daniel is Ready to Roll

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.24.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-02 at 3.24.28 PM

Today’s Podcast

One thing we learned: Shannon can’t take criticism.


Travis Jewett (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Potential Candidates To Replace Henderson

Brad-Bohannon-Hug

Bohannon (UK Athletics)

It’s time to look towards a new head of Kentucky Baseball. Gary Henderson led the team from 2009-16 and was an assistant from 2004-2009. Henderson took the team to two regionals but faltered in his final couple years at the helm. As an SEC program, UK will need to find someone who can recruit and coach against the likes of Tim Corbin and Paul Mainieri. It won’t be easy to find someone who can change the face of the program, but these names are a start.

Obvious Candidates

Brad Bohannon- Assistant at Auburn

Bohannon was the 2015 Assistant Coach of the Year in his final season at UK. He spent 12 seasons at UK before joining Butch Thompson’s staff in 2016. Bohannon is an excellent recruiter who was well liked by players and fans alike. He brought in some of the top talent from Canada and United States to UK and was the key cog in getting guys to the next level. He will be one of the first calls that Barhart makes as UK looks for a new coach.

Greg Goff- Head Coach at Louisiana Tech

Goff was the pitching coach under Keith Madison from 1999-2003. He has built a great program in one year at LaTech and won 40 games three straight years at Campbell from 2012 to 2014. Perfect Game named him one of the top ten rising coaches in the NCAA. LaTech made the NCAA Tournament in his second year at the helm.

Rick Eckstein- Assistant at UK

Barnhart will probably talk to Eckstein and Keith Vorhoff first. Eckstein has been a big league hitting coach with the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Angels and coached in the 2008 Olympics. His brother is World Series hero David Eckstein.

Brian Green- Heach Coach at New Mexico State

Green led UK’s offense to a breakout season in 2014 and then took a job at his alma mater afterwards. He took NMSU from a 10-39-1 record to a 34-23 season in 2016.

Matt Bragga- Head Coach at Tennessee Tech

Bragga is a former BatCat that has found success in the coaching field. He turned TTU into a solid program in his 12 years in the OVC. Bragga has been named OVC Coach of the Year twice at TTU.

Travis Jewett (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Travis Jewett (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Longshots

Travis Jewett- Assistant at Vanderbilt

Jewett is in the top tier of assistants in the country. He brought in and developed the likes of Dansby Swanson and Jeren Kendall. Jewett has been the hitting coach for a College World Series winning team and helped lead Arizona State to a Pac-12 title in 2010. He is usually one of the first names in coaching searches across the country.

Chris Burke- ESPN Commentator and former MLB Player

Yeah, it’s kind of strange, but hear me out. Burke is hitting genius. Burke interviewed with Tennessee several years ago before they went with Dave Serrano. He has worked with several players on UK’s team before and would be a great hitting coach at the very least.

Andy Cannizaro- Assistant at LSU

Cannizaro is a young guy who might jump at the opportunity to run his own program. He played and scouted for the Yankees before coming on as a recruiting coordinator and hitting coach at LSU.

Keep in mind this is just a preemptive list. There will be names from across the country popping up as the search begins. We will have updates on the search as the week goes on.


@UKBaseball

Gary Henderson Could Never Make The Final Leap

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Gary Henderson was never a loser at Kentucky. The long-time coach at UK resigned today after missing his second consecutive NCAA Tournament. But he was not a loser. The issue Henderson had was that he could never get the baseball program to the next level. He had plenty of time to do so, and plenty of chances.

If there was ever a chance to take the program to the next level, it was with the 2012 team. In his fourth year, Henderson led the Cats to 45 wins and a spot in a regional. UK dropped a heart-breaker to Kent State in the finals and finished a win away from the super regionals. The program was never able to reach that level again under Henderson. The most wins Henderson ever had after 2012 was the 2014 season. Led by Golden Spikes Winner A.J Reed, Kentucky won 37 games, finished in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, and received a two seed in the Louisville Regional. Once again, UK lost in the finals. The two regionals were the only times Henderson led UK to the postseason in his seven seasons.

The baseball program could never climb out of a regional and into the national spotlight with Henderson at the helm. It felt as if they were knocking on the door, but could never break it down. After the 2014 season, UK faltered and did not make the last two NCAA Tournaments. This past season featured an epic collapse, similar to the one in 2015.

The BatCats were ranked in the top ten in some polls and top 20 in all the other major rankings midway through SEC play. UK took the first four SEC series and took two of three against #1 Florida. But the season was all downhill from there. Kentucky dropped six of seven and lost two games to Louisville. Midweeks began to bite UK in late March and April. Losses to NKU and WKU killed Kentucky’s RPI. UK went on to miss their fifth NCAA tournament in seven years under Henderson.

The issue with succeeding at Kentucky is that it is an uphill battle to win games. UK is the northernmost school in the SEC and it is frigid for the first month of the season. Getting recruits to come here over another SEC school is extremely difficult. Henderson and Brad Bohannon did a good job of getting talented players into the program and funneling them out as professionals. But with the 38 players drafted in the MLB under Henderson, the program only made two regionals. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Even harder is that UK had the player of the year in Reed, Team USA centerfielder Austin Cousino, and plethora of other high draft picks on the 2012 team and 2014 team. But even they could not get UK over the final hurdle.

@UKBaseball

@UKBaseball

So yes, there is an aspect of this job that is very difficult. The weather is awful early in the season and our facilities aren’t on par with others in the SEC. But with as much talent that found its way to Lexington, there should have been more results. Kentucky lost five straight games to Louisville and three straight to WKU to end Henderson’s tenure. Louisville built their program in the same climate and in a difficult conference, but UK could not match their success in the last five years.

Louisville was able to make that jump to an elite program when they became a powerhouse on Dan McDonnell in the last few years. Despite his aptitude as a pitching coach, Henderson was never able to lead a team to that same level. UK seemed to be in limbo over the last couple seasons. All the talent was there to win, but they fell apart down the stretch.

The final hurdle is not an exact amount of success. There’s no way to say “get to this point and this point in the NCAA Tournament and you’ll be fine” with a coach. But there needs to be some amount of growth after a good season. Henderson never could build on the success of the 2012 team. Henderson was the fastest to ever reach 200 wins at UK and the first to win 30 games in five straight seasons. But the program seemed to flat line. Henderson saw that he had done all that he could in Lexington, and made the decision to move on.