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The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky baseball and Louisville join forces to support Kentucky State Baseball

Jack Weaver
Kentucky Wildcats head coach Nick Mingione talks to reporters after the No. 18 Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky baseball game on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Kentucky won 10-8. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

When Nick Mingione’s Kentucky Wildcats and Dan McDonnell’s Louisville Cardinals face off on April 2 and April 16 it’s sure to be a fierce rivalry, but even the biggest rivalries can pause for a cause bigger than baseball.

March 3, 2023, marked a dark day in Kentucky’s history, as severe storms and historic winds claimed the lives of four people and caused extensive damage across the Commonwealth.

Wind gusts reached up to 70 mph in the state capital of Frankfort, Kentucky. This resulted in downed trees and destroyed power lines, which left several thousand people without electricity for days.

The effects of this storm are still being felt almost a year later in Frankfort and, in particular, within Kentucky State University’s baseball program.

The storm leveled KSU’s home ballpark as dugouts were destroyed, fencing was obliterated and the backstop was completely taken out.

Some of the challenges that arose for KSU extended much further than just the visible damage to the field.

You have some challenges when it comes to recruiting and you have to convince recruits to come here despite the facilities, because they’re not going to come here because of facilities right now,” KSU head coach Rod Henry told WKYT.

With its home field now unplayable, the Thorobreds were left reeling and without a place to call home.

However, in the face of adversity, the community of Frankfort rallied for the team and they played their home games at Western Hills High School Baseball Field in Frankfort for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Then, on Jan. 27, 2024, coach Mingione and coach McDonell joined forces and stepped up to the plate for KSU, participating in a fundraiser to help raise money for the new field renovations.

Any time we have an opportunity to help college baseball in the state of Kentucky, we’ve got to take advantage of it,” McDonnell told WKYT.

The fundraiser was a huge success and raised $10,000 for the program.

“When you put this jersey on or you put this UK on your chest, it is more than just about your program, it’s about giving back,” Mingione said about the importance of community service.

The Thorobreads will remain at Western Hills Baseball Field for the 2024 season as construction remains ongoing for their new field.

As a former baseball player, I want to continue to support the program and coach Henry in what he’s done to strategically build this program over the years,” Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson told WKYT.

When the Cardinals and the Wildcats step in between the lines, there is likely to be no love lost, but when there is a cause bigger than any pitch or at bat, the teams can set aside their differences and come together to show support.

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