First-year Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione has been named the Perfect Game/Rawlings College Head Coach of the Year, it was announced on Tuesday.
Kentucky just completed Mingione’s first season with the program’s first trip to the Super Regionals after winning three elimination games in the Lexington Regional to claim the regional championship. The Wildcats’ 43 wins were the most for the program since the 2012 team won a school-record 45, and the 19 regular season SEC wins are the second most in school history to the 20 won by the 2006 team, the Cats’ only league title.
It was a historic season for the Wildcats, who were picked in the bottom half of the league in the preseason, began the season 2-5 and did not enter the national rankings until week 5 of the season. The Cats remained in the top three of the SEC standings all season and still had championship implications in their final regular season game at Florida.
Mingione, who was an assistant at UK under John Cohen before spending the past eight years with him at Mississippi State, set new high-water marks for a first-year UK coach. The 43 overall wins are nine14 more than Keith Madison had in 1979 and the 19 SEC wins are six more than Madison had that season, both of which were the previous program records.
The Cats had 17 wins over ranked opponents, the second most in school history and their .833 winning percentage at Cliff Hagan Stadium this season also was the second highest winning percentage in a single season in home games (.853, 2012). UK went 20-1 at home in non-conference games, losing only to NC State in the NCAA Tournament before avenging that defeat by beating the Wolfpack twice to reach the Super Regional.
Some of Kentucky’s accomplishments this season included:
· First time advancing to NCAA Super Regional
· First NCAA Tournament since 2014
· 43 wins are the fourth most in school history, just two shy of the record 45 from the 2012 team.
· Only six teams in UK history have won at least 40 games.
· Had the most All-Americans in a season in school history.
· Had the most NCAA Tournament wins of any UK team in its history.
· Combined with end of last season, went 76 games without being shutout, the seventh longest streak in school history.
· 17 wins vs. ranked teams are the second most in school history and most since 2006.
· Played the nation’s 13th-most difficult schedule.
· Had 18 Top 50 wins in regular season, the fourth most in the country.
· Cats set new Cliff Hagan Stadium single-game attendance records twice during Lexington Regional.
· HITS (706) – Previous record was 687 in 1988
· PITCHING STRIKEOUTS (583) – Previous was 523 in 2009
· BATTING AVG. AGAINST (.230) – Previous was .254 in 2016
· INNINGS PITCHED (576) – Previous was 570 (2012)
· Sweep of No. 23 UC Santa Barbara was:
o First sweep over a ranked opponent since the Wildcats swept No. 2 South Carolina on March 16-18, 2012.
o Believed to be first sweep of a ranked non-conference foe.
· Defeated No. 2 Louisville.
· Completed only the second non-conference home schedule in school history.
· Placed SIX players on either first- or second-team All-SEC, the most in the history of the program.
· Had the SEC Pitcher of the Year for the first time ever.
· Had the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year for the first time ever.
· Offense led the SEC in 10 major statistical categories and was second in two others a year after ranking in the bottom half of the league in 10 of the same categories.
· Pitching ranked top four in the league in our categories.
· Gave up the least amount of stolen bases (15) by a wide margin (seven).
· Ranked in top half of league in least number of passed balls allowed.
· Won SEC Player or Pitcher of the Week five times
· First 4-0 start on road in SEC play since 1949.
· Best finish (3rd) since 2006 championship club.
Sweep at No. 11 Texas A&M was…
· First sweep of a ranked SEC foe in five years.
· First sweep of a true road series since knocking off Tennessee in 2008.
· First road series victory over a ranked SEC foe since April 2015 at No. 5 Florida.
· Texas A&M came into the series owners of an 80-15 record at Blue Bell Park since the beginning of the 2015 season.
Series win over No. 11 Ole Miss…
· Ended an 8-game losing streak to Ole Miss dating to 2013.
· First series win over Ole Miss since 2013.
Series win over No. 22 Vanderbilt was…
· First series win over Vanderbilt since 2009 in Lexington.
· 7-1 start in SEC play is best since the 1992 team began league play 7-1 on its way to an 8-1 mark through the first three weeks of conference play.
Series win at No. 21 South Carolina…
· First win in Founders Park (0-9 previously)
· Ended an 11-game losing streak at South Carolina dating to 2008.
· Had been 2-22 at South Carolina since 2001.
· Kentucky’s 19-1 win on 4/28 is:
o Largest ever margin of victory for UK in SEC play.
o The worst home loss for South Carolina at Founders Park (opened in 2009).
o The worst loss for South Carolina overall since 1997
o Most runs scored for UK in SEC game since 2009 (at Miss. State, 22)
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‑ GO CATS –
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