The kid sat on a bus heading from Wellman, Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska. The College World Series. The big time.
He was chasing a dream.
And his high school baseball coach made it happen.
The kid on that bus was Kyle Mullet, who is now the head coach at Mid-Prairie High School and 12 or so years later is doing the same thing for his baseball kids.
“I’ll never forget it,” Mullet said. “One of the best moments of my life.”
So, last weekend the Golden Hawks went on a road trip to the College World Series and along the way stopped off in Denison in western Iowa on June 17 to hang a 9-1 defeat on Denison-Schleswig High School.
“Little fun thing we do,” said Mullet, a 2012 Mid-Prairie graduate. “This is something that my high school coach started back in the early 2000s, coach Brian Miller. Created this program. Winning a state, going to state, first year in ’01 there, win a state title in ’04, and then going to state in ’06 and ’07. Really created a dynasty.”
Turn back the calendar and that 250-mile trip meant the world to a Mid-Prairie baseball kid named Kyle Mullet.
“Baseball was everything to me then,” he said. “I had dreams of playing college baseball. So when Coach Miller did that for me, going in that stadium, seeing the college guys play, it built my dreams. It gets you excited for that. It shows anybody can do that if they really put their mind to it.”
When Miller completed a decade as Mid-Prairie coach after the 2010 season and went to the University of Iowa as a volunteer assistant coach, the College World Series trip disappeared behind his departure.
Mullet is building those memories again with these Golden Hawks.
“The CWS was a blast,” said senior catcher Tyler Helmuth. “After winning a game in Denison, after a long drive, it felt good to relax and watch baseball with the team next day. We have been following some of the teams playing, so it was fun to watch.”
“Going to Omaha is always a fun trip and most importantly it’s great team bonding time,” said senior outfielder Will Cavanagh. “Getting to ride in the vans, staying in the hotel and sitting at the game together is awesome for us to get time together outside of playing game.”
So, on Saturday June 18, the Golden Hawks sat inside toasty (91 degrees at first pitch) Charles Schwab Field in Omaha along with more than 24,000 other spectators and watched Arkansas blast No. 2-ranked Stanford, 17-2. They saw an SEC team set a record for the most lopsided win by an SEC team in the World Series. And they saw both teams combine for 28 hits (21 by Arkansas), breaking a venue record.
The trip to Omaha was the second year in a row for the Golden Hawks. Mullet is in his second year as head coach and brought the trip back last year in his rookie season.
“Our morale when we came back from that trip was totally different,” he said. “Our guys were just having fun. It was a great way to get them excited.”
That just may happen again. The Golden Hawks won their last three games prior to going to Omaha, all road wins. As the summer season heads toward the postseason, they’ll host Durant on Monday.
“Last year after the CWS trip, we went on a winning streak and I’m hoping we can do that again,” Cavanagh said.
And it all began with a kid on a bus a few years ago.
News columnist Paul Bowker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @bowkerpaul.
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