Sports column: Kentucky can be Mississippi’s team for the College World Series

Published 5:00 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

We’ve gotten a little spoiled around here when it comes to college baseball in mid-to-late June.

Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss have been regulars in the NCAA’s super regional round the past few years, and State and Ole Miss both won national championships. LSU, which has plenty of fans in Vicksburg, was there to pick up the slack when the others faltered and won last year’s national title.

This year, though, we don’t have any of them. State, Southern Miss and LSU all got knocked out in the regional round. Ole Miss didn’t even make the tournament. There are four SEC teams in Omaha as the College World Series begins this weekend, and for the first time in a while Mississippi doesn’t have one to root for.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Or do we?

Kentucky, which is making its first-ever appearance in the College World Series, might be the answer. The Wildcats only have one player from Mississippi — freshman infielder Hudson Brown, who played at Northpoint Christian in Southaven — but its coaching staff has deep ties to the state.

Start with head coach Nick Mingione. Before taking over at Kentucky in 2017, he spent eight years as an assistant at Mississippi State.

As he’s rounded out his staff, Mingione turned to the Magnolia State to find assistants. Nick Ammirati and Trevor Fitts have both coached here and were on the 2013 Mississippi State team that reached the CWS championship series.

Fitts was Mississippi State’s director of operations in 2017 and 2018, and the pitching coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College during the 2022 season.

Ammirati spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Hinds Community College, where he worked with the pitchers and catchers and helped the Eagles reach the NJCAA Division II World Series in 2017. He went to Southern Miss for one season in 2021, and then moved on to Kentucky in 2022.

At Thursday’s CWS press conference, Mingione credited Ammirati for improving Kentucky’s offensive output.

“I want to give Nick Ammirati, one of our assistants, a lot of credit for the job that he’s done for our team offensively,” Mingione said.

Kentucky plays North Carolina State in its CWS opener Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN.

A couple of the other SEC teams have Mississippi players. Texas A&M boasts Madison Central alum Braden Montgomery, an outfielder. Tennessee has seldom-used infielder Alex Perry, from North Pike and Pearl River Community College.

For quantity, though, it’s hard to beat Big Blue. Since we don’t have any of our own teams left, we might as well adopt them.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest