South Carolina baseball didn’t make it to Omaha in 2018, but after falling just one win short, plenty of people took notice of the job first-year coach Mark Kingston did with the Gamecocks.
After missing the NCAA tournament in 2017 and stumbling to a 20-17 record to start this year, USC exploded down the stretch, reeling off five consecutive SEC series wins, claiming an NCAA regional crown and taking eventual national runner-up Arkansas to three games on the road in a Super Regional.
Carolina finished the season on a 17-9 run and was ranked No. 14 in the season’s final poll by D1Baseball.com and No. 16 by Baseball America, despite having no players named to the All-SEC first, second, all-freshman or all-defensive teams.
On Thursday, D1Baseball.com recognized Kingston’s work by including him on its list of “Best Coaching Jobs” in the country. While Texas Tech’s Tim Tadlock took home national Coach of the Year honors, Kendall Rogers wrote of USC that “the future is once again bright in Columbia, thanks to Kingston and his staff.”
Kingston has also garnered praise from players and opposing coaches, with Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, who also made D1Baseball’s list, predicting the Gamecocks will make it to the College World Series in the future, minor league pitcher Wil Crowe saying he “loved” watching the team’s performance this year and MLB draftee LT Tolbert saying he thinks Kingston will win multiple national titles.
Looking ahead to 2019, Kingston will have another difficult coaching job on his hands, as two-thirds of USC’s weekend rotation will be gone, along with eight of the nine starters from the final lineup of the season. In their place, Kingston will likely trot out several junior college transfers and add three high school MLB draftees who chose to come to college.