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Photo Credit: Jeff Drummond/Scout

Nick Mingione has put together a debut season for the ages for himself as the head man at the University of Kentucky. While his passion, energy and outgoing personality have been on 10 since day one he has more than exceeded the expectations of fans and media alike.

He has catapulted the Cats into national prominence at warp speed. Kentucky (38-16, 19-9 SEC) has had a single-digit number (they are currently No. 7) by their name for a large portion of the season.

After their emphatic series opening win over the Florida Gators (38-15, 19-9 SEC)  in Gainesville the Cats find themselves in a first place tie in the SEC with two games to play.

It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement and nearly instant success that Mingione has had that one could very easily take it for granted.

The news from Knoxville earlier in the week should at the very least provide some sobering perspective.

Dave Serrano was just never quite able to get things going in his six seasons at Tennessee. The Vols were swept by the Cats this season by a combined score of 30-10. Serrano was 1-5 against Kentucky (final year of Gary Henderson, first season for Mingione) over the last two seasons. The news of his resignation didn’t really come as a surprise and it wouldn’t have been

Nick Mingione has given UK fans plenty to smile about this season. Photo: Brandon Graves

surprising if it had occurred at the end of last season. If you flash back to the time Serrano was hired it was very difficult to envision all of the struggles that have taken place since then. Things seemed set up perfectly for Serrano at Tennessee to do exactly what Nick Mingione has done at Kentucky.

Serrano spent time as an assistant at UT just like Mingione had done at Kentucky. Tennessee was 97-36 during his tenure (1994-95) as pitching coach and made it to the College World Series. His recruiting spoke for itself as well. He left Tennessee and went on to become a head coach and took not one but two teams to the College World Series (UC Irvine 2007, Cal State Fullerton 2009).

His overall coaching record is 447-300 but he is only 157-161 at Tennessee with a 55-118 record versus the SEC (he even added former Vol and Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton to his staff). I said all of that to say this, Dave Serrano is a very good coach who has accomplished a lot of really great things in his career. SEC baseball is no joke, but no one would have ever thought that he would be 63 games below .500 in conference play.

If, for some reason, you had begun to take Kentucky’s baseball success for granted or assume that it’s always going to be like this from now on the above paragraphs show how difficult it can be to get things rolling. As easily as things

seem to be coming for UK baseball it’s all the product of Nick Mingione tirelessly attacking the challenge. His relentlessness is infectious. What he has done isn’t easy to do. At worst, this season, he has two shots to play for at least a share of the SEC in his first year on the job.

Appreciate and cherish every second of it.

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