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  1. Pitching rotation set for opening weekend Feb. 14, 2018 South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston released the pitching rotation for his first weekend series with the Gamecocks. Adam Hill will start on Friday at 4 o’clock when the season kicks off against VMI. As a sophomore last season, the righty made 14 starts, finishing with a 3.04 ERA and 87 strikeouts. Sophomore right-hander Cody Morris is set to make the start on Saturday afternoon. He appeared in 10 games in 2017 and went 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Ridge Chapman, a junior righty who transferred from Spartanburg Methodist, will get the nod on Sunday. He had a 2.84 ERA with 5 wins and 98 strikeouts as a sophomore at Spartanburg Methodist.
  2. My Signature: Mark Kingston On Opening Day Feb. 13, 2018 With baseball season opening Friday at Founders Park, South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston offers his thoughts on his first opening day with the Gamecocks. "As opening day approaches I look back on the last six or seven months and think about what a whirlwind it has been. From the day Coach Tanner called me to gauge my interest in the position, to all the transitions, the family moving, hiring assistant coaches, and talking to the current team and recruits; it's been a tremendous six or seven months with a ton of challenges, but it's also been great. "I'm looking forward to seeing this stadium packed with Gamecock fans. We've had a lot of practices where there are close to a thousand or 1,500 fans watching us scrimmage and are trying to see the latest developments in Gamecock baseball. "Now I'm ready to see 8,000 out there. I want to see what that looks like and what that sounds like. I want to watch them come to their feet when we get a big base hit or get a big strikeout on the mound. It's something I've been looking forward to ever since I took the job. "On game day, we keep it pretty simple. We'll meet as a staff around 10 o'clock in the morning. We'll go over scouting reports, projected lineups, matchups, and we'll look at all the data that we'll have at our disposal to try to give ourselves the best chance to win that night. We'll talk about our players. We'll talk about trends on our team. We'll talk about who's hot, who's cold, and who might need an opportunity. "Game day is all about coaches collaborating on what's best for the team that day. "The best advice I ever got in coaching was to be yourself. You always have to be learning. If you're going to be in it for the long haul, you have to be in it because you're trying to help these student-athletes be the best they can be. "You have to focus on being the best mentor, the best teacher, and the best coach. When you do that, the wins take care of themselves. "I feel good about our team. I think the expectations from the outside are a little bit lower than they've been in the past. I think that's because we only have a couple of pitchers back that threw significant innings for us. Figuring out our pitching staff is the biggest challenge we have right now. I don't call it a concern. I call it a challenge because I think we have some very talented kids. They're just unproven so far at this level, but at some point, (former Gamecock/New York Yankees first round draft pick) Clarke Schmidtwas an unproven commodity. Once he got out there on the mound, he proved himself. "I think we're going to have some of those stories this year. "I feel good about where we are. I know we're prepared. Our culture is where we want it, but we're always looking to get better. "I'm just very excited for the immediate future and also looking into the future for where I think this program can be moving forward."
  3. Shuttle Information For Baseball Home Games Key information for weekday 4 p.m. games as well as where to park for the shuttle to Founders Park. Feb. 13, 2018 COLUMBIA - For the second straight season, shuttle parking for the University of South Carolina baseball season will be operational at the Key Road Gravel Lot (1105 Key Road) and in Lot B of the Colonial Life Arena parking lot. Shuttles will begin running two hours prior to game time. We strongly recommend that fans use the baseball shuttle from Key Road to Founders Park over the CLA shuttle for the convenience, spacious parking (650 spaces) and less congestion than at the arena. Please remember that at the arena, shuttle parking will be limited to 50 spaces because of the student demand for parking in this area. There is a high student demand Monday through Thursday that lasts until 7 p.m. because of classes. Lots A and B are also reserved for men's and women's basketball parking on Feb. 17, 18 and 21. For GPS purposes, the address for the Key Road Gravel Lot is 1105 Key Road, Columbia, SC 29201. BUSINESS LOTS DURING AFTERNOON GAMES Business lot parking passes will be honored in Lot 1 ONLY for the Feb. 16, 20, 21, 23 and 27 afternoon baseball games based on availability. The businesses at 405 (Lot 9) and 401 (Lot 10) Huger Street request that you begin parking at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. Other business lots open at 5 p.m. on weekdays. Parking is allowed in Lot 8 (the Cregger lot) on the Williams St. side for the afternoon early games. GAME DAY PARKING INFORMATION (including public game day lots (PGDL: $10/$5 per game)) Weekday 4 p.m. Games (Feb. 16, 20, 21, 23, 27) Game time: 4 p.m. Stadium opens: 2:30 p.m. Business Lots Open: 5/5:30 p.m. Lot 1, STDM, HDG PDGL Open: 1 p.m. Bus Shuttle for Patrons: 2 p.m. Weekdays Game Time: 7 p.m. Stadium Opens: 5:30 p.m. Business Lots Open: 5/5:30 p.m. Lot 1, STDM, HDG PGDL Open: 4 p.m. Bus Shuttle for Patrons: 5 p.m. Saturday Game Time: 4 p.m. Stadium Opens: 2:30 p.m. Business Lots Open: 1 p.m. Lot 1, STDM, HDG PGDL Open: 1 p.m. Bus Shuttle for Patrons: 2 p.m. Sunday Game Time: 1:30 p.m. Stadium Opens: Noon Business Lots Open: 10:30 a.m. Lot 1, STDM, HDG PGDL Open: 10:30 a.m. Bus Shuttle for Patrons: 11:30 a.m.
  4. SEC preseason baseball power poll 2018: This is how the teams rank Feb. 12, 2018 Please tell us it’s true. It’s really here. The SEC’s true best sport — baseball — is now upon us. This isn’t a dream right? It might seem like it, given a bit of SEC country was dealing with the remnants of an ice storm Monday morning. But come Friday, as the weather continues to warm, the league’s teams will begin their regular seasons. Baseball season begins this weekend. That wasn’t a joke above, either. Baseball is the SEC’s best sport. At least, it’s the sport in which the league dominates wholly over every other conference in the land. This year is no different. Three teams could be counted among the five or six favorites for a national championship. Another three or four are in line to perhaps host an NCAA Regional. Three more after that, maybe another four, could vie for an NCAA Tournament spot. As we did all through last season, SEC Country will keep you updated on the sport. Every Monday, we will release our league power poll. These aren’t the league standings, nor the league top-25 rankings. This is a list of how dangerous we think these teams are, on a whole, in the moment. Without further ado, let’s play ball. 14. Alabama (previously 14th) Last year: 19-34-1 Next series: vs. Valparaiso My gosh, what a disastrous season for the Crimson Tide in 2017. Greg Goff lasted all of one year after allegations of player mistreatment. In comes Auburn assistant Brad Bohannon, who, by all accounts, is the opposite of Goff, personality-wise. This culture has a long way to go to be changed, though. 13. Georgia Last year: 25-32, 11-19 Next series: vs. Georgia Remember when Georgia made the College World Series? Seems like decades ago. The Bulldogs have fallen on hard times. If they don’t finish 13th, they’re no higher than 11th, anyway. Another long year down in Athens. 12. Tennessee Last year: 27-25, 7-21 Next series: vs. Maryland Arkansas fans will watch this team closer than usual, given former assistant coach Tony Vitello is now heading up the Vols. To be frank, he’s the only reason Tennessee is this high. There is a real dearth of talent in the program right now. 11. Missouri Last year: 14-16, 36-23 Next series: at Florida International Steve Bieser begins his first year at Mizzou with a task. A large task. From just a couple hundred miles down the road at Southeast Missouri State, he turned that team into a small-conference power. Columbia and the SEC are a different game than Cape Girardeau and the Ohio Valley Conference. 10. South Carolina Last year: 35-25, 13-17 Next series: vs. Virginia Military Institute At one point last year the Gamecocks were the No. 1 team in this power poll. Bad luck struck South Carolina like no team we have seen in years. Tons of underclassmen had to have more at-bats than they were ready for. It was the same with the pitching staff, which got tossed into the fire early, as well. Now, practically, they’re all back. If there’s a team to jump higher than this season-opening slot, it’s South Carolina. 9. Auburn Last year: 37-26, 16-14 Next series: vs. Longwood Look, Auburn lost a ton off last year’s overachieving team. The best three hitters are gone. Two-thirds of the weekend rotation is gone. The bullpen was an unmitaged disaster after the one returnee, Calvin Coker. But for someone reason, call it the Casey Mize Effect, Auburn could mess around and make another NCAA Tournament. 8. Mississippi State Last year: 40-27, 17-13 Next series: at Southern Miss Brent Rooker is gone. That’s a bummer for all of college baseball … except Mississippi State’s opponents. Jake Mangum remains one of the best table-setters in the game, though, and the Bulldogs have plenty of pitching. Eighth sounds low. It isn’t. Not in this league. 7. Vanderbilt Last year: 36-25-1, 15-13-1 Next series: vs. Duke Vanderbilt baseball hasn’t missed the NCAA Tournament since 2005. This is the likeliest team to break that streak. Note, not predicting it will happen, but these Commodores don’t scare like some teams of the past do. Outside Julian Infante, who is a slamming first baseman, Vanderbilt is good, but not great. 6. Ole Miss Last year: 32-25, 14-16 Next series: vs. Winthrop Ole Miss has the pitching, no doubt about it. Hitting, however, may leave some things to be desired. It’s hard to get a handle on a team that was downright mediocre in 2017, returns a lot, and then is expected by league’s coaches and national writers to be a top-15 team. 5. LSU Last year: 52-20, 21-9 Next series: vs. Notre Dame LSU is what LSU is, right? The Tigers simply reload. This year’s team doesn’t have the well-established names like teams past, but Zach Watson could very well play himself into being the league’s Player of the Year. A small question at pitching, but mostly you figure Paul Mainieri’s bunch to simply plug-and-play. 4. Texas A&M Last year: 41-23, 16-14 Next series: vs. Rhode Island Torn on this team. They were a whole bunch of average in SEC play last year but then turned it on in the postseason. Not convinced they’re that good, as good as they showed in June. But they have the best hitting infield in college baseball probably. One of, anyway. If there’s a team to pick to finish far lower than projected, let’s go with the Aggies. 3. Kentucky Last year: 43-23, 19-11 Next series: at Wofford Not a darkhorse for the SEC title given the Wildcats are third and a preseason top-10 team in the country. But considering how far and away Florida is — and how far back Kentucky was a couple years ago — it’s still odd to see it this high. Make no mistake, though, last year wasn’t a fluke. 2. Arkansas Last year: 45-19, 18-11 Next series: vs. Bucknell On paper, this is the best Arkansas team in years. They’re even better than the crew a few years back that was preseason No. 1 in the nation. This Arkansas team has a handful more professional prospects than that one. There’s a good mix of solid college guys, too, who probably won’t see much action for pay, but are dynamite at this level. 1. Florida Overall: 52-19, 21-9 Next series: vs. Siena A practically unanimous choice as preseason No. 1, the Gators are the favorites to win another national championship. Back-to-back. They have the pitching. They have the hitting. The coaching is there. Can they survive the rigors of the SEC? SECCOUNTRY
  5. The SEC preseason baseball poll is out: Where the Gamecocks project to finish February 08, 2018 South Carolina sophomore Carlos Cortes earned Preseason All-SEC second team honors Thursday, and the conference’s coaches picked the Gamecocks to finish fourth in the East Division. USC finished last season in fifth place out of seven in the East, the second time in the last three years it has placed there. In the league’s preseason poll, however, this is South Carolina’s lowest opening in at least four years. Defending national champion Florida was picked to win both the East and the conference, earning 12 of 14 first-place votes. In the East, the Gators were followed by Kentucky, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee. On the other side of the conference, the preseason poll suggested a tough year ahead for USC, with South Carolina playing the top four teams in the West Division — Arkansas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and LSU. Arkansas and Texas A&M both also received a vote to win the conference championship. Cortes, meanwhile, continues to rake in the preseason accolades. He has also been named preseason all-league by Perfect Game, preseason All-America third team by Baseball America and one of the top MLB Draft prospects in the conference by both D1Baseball and Baseball America. Last season, Cortes started slow but came on strong towards the end of the season, played in 50 games with 43 starts. He hit .286 with a team-high 12 home runs and 41 RBI last season, and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and earned SEC All-Tournament team honors after hitting three home runs, driving in eight, scoring five runs and walking eight times in five tournament games. South Carolina opens the 2018 season next Friday against VMI. First pitch at Founders Park is set for 4 p.m. 2018 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll Eastern Division 1. Florida (13) - 91 2. Kentucky (1) - 74 3. Vanderbilt - 72 4. South Carolina - 50 5. Georgia - 41 6. Missouri - 32 7. Tennessee - 25 Western Division 1. Arkansas (12) - 90 2. Texas A&M (1) - 72 3. Ole Miss (1) - 62 4. LSU - 59 5. Mississippi State - 44 6. Auburn - 38 7. Alabama - 20 (X) - First place votes SEC Champion: Florida (12), Arkansas (1), Texas A&M (1) 2018 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team First Team C: Grant Koch, Arkansas 1B: Julian Infante, Vanderbilt 2B: Cobie Vance, Alabama SS: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M 3B: Jonathan India, Florida OF: Antoine Duplantis, LSU OF: Tristan Pompey, Kentucky OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State DH/UTL: Michael Curry, Georgia SP: Brady Singer, Florida SP: Casey Mize, Auburn RP: Michael Byrne, Florida Second Team C: JJ Schwarz, Florida 1B: Kameron Misner, Missouri 2B: Luke Becker, Kentucky SS: Jax Biggers, Arkansas 3B: George Janca, Texas A&M OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas OF: Zach Watson, LSU OF: Carlos Cortes, South Carolina DH/UTL: JJ Schwarz, Florida SP: Sean Hjelle, Kentucky SP: Blaine Knight, Arkansas RP: Dallas Woolfolk, Ole Miss
  6. Gamecocks baseball team focusing on inward expectations February 06, 2018 South Carolina’s 2018 baseball season will start shortly. If new head coach Mark Kingston gets his wish, it’ll be over before fans know it. “When you’re playing really well, (the season) goes fast,” Kingston said Monday after his team finished its sixth of nine preseason intrasquad scrimmages. “Last year, we had a 19-game winning streak, and it went fast. There are other times when you’re laboring or you’re struggling a little bit and the season seems to crawl by. A lot of it has to do with the kind of success you are having.” That 19-game winning streak came at South Florida, where Kingston was before being hired by Ray Tanner to take over a Gamecocks program that had a very long 2017 season. South Carolina finished 35-25 overall and 13-17 in the SEC and out of the national postseason, leading to Chad Holbrook’s departure and Kingston’s hiring. Kingston has 11 days left to get his new club ready to play VMI in the season opener on Feb. 16 at Founders Park. The Gamecocks aren’t expected to get back to Omaha in Kingston’s first season, at least not by many outside the program. South Carolina was only placed in the preseason Top 25 by one of the sport’s four major polls. “I don’t know what the outside expectations are,” Kingston said. “I think there are some fans that probably want us to win the national championship this year. There are some that want us to get to a regional. It’s hard to say. I know our expectations are to be the absolute best we can be and if that means we go to a regional or a Super or Omaha, we will live with that. Our expectations are that we just max this thing out this year.” That will mean restoring the team’s and the program’s confidence level. “Confidence is very important, but confidence has to be earned,” Kingston said. “You don’t just create confidence out of thin air. You have to work for it. You have to earn it through your preparation and how you perform on the field.” And that can be done on chilly February nights even if you are only playing your own teammates, Kingston said. “This is a tough game, so whether it’s a game against an opponent, whether it’s an intrasquad game, this is a hard game. A 90 mph fastball doesn’t know if it’s an intrasquad or a real game, so when you’re a hitter and you’ve been working to hit that pitch and you hit it in the gap, you earn confidence with that. I think you gain just as much confidence out here against our guys as we would against an opponent.” THE STATE
  7. Why this early enrollee in USC baseball won’t have to wait for playing time January 30, 2018 The very newest member of South Carolina baseball won’t have to wait long to make an impact for the Gamecocks, partly because of the team’s desperate need, but also due to his unusual freshman poise. USC head coach Mark Kingston and his squad, including early enrollee pitcher John Gilreath, took the field at Founders Park for three scrimmages this past weekend, opening their spring schedule ahead of their season opener against VMI on Feb. 16. In those three scrimmages, Gilreath, a left-hander who graduated from his high school in Rock Hill, S.C., a semester early to join the program, threw three innings, starting on Monday and working his way our of several jams. A baseball player leaving high school early is an extremely unusual move, but South Carolina is in an unusual position — without Gilreath, the Gamecocks would have had just two left-handed pitchers on its roster this season. So Kingston presented Gilreath with the opportunity to come in and have an immediate chance to contribute, and the 5-foot-11 hurler, who went 11-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his junior season, accepted. On Monday, however, Kingston said Gilreath’s handedness is not the only reason he wanted him on the team as quickly as possible. “He looks like a guy that will probably be able to help us some,” Kingston said. “The lefties we have need to show they can throw strikes, that they’re going to have the composure to do the job once they’re out there, and so far he looks like he might be able to do that.” Overall, Kingston downplayed his pitching staff’s lack of left-handers as an issue and said all three on the team will not get time on the mound solely because they’ll provide the Gamecocks with a different look. “I’ve had teams where I haven’t had a ton of lefties I could use. You just have to use what you have,” Kingston said. “I think we’ll try to find the right spots for the guys we have, but they’re going to have to earn their innings as well.” Leadoff spot contenders At media day last week, Kingston said his lineup is still far from settled going, but after three practices, he named two main contenders for USC’s leadoff spot. On one hand, junior outfielder TJ Hopkins spent the most time leading off for the Gamecocks last season, and he enjoyed a strong weekend, stringing together multiple hits, RBIs and runs. On the other, freshman Noah Campbell has received high praise from Kingston and is considered a contender to start right away at second base. “I mean Campbell is going to be considered up there. Hopkins is going to be considered up there. At this point, I’d say those are the two top options we have in terms of guys who will take pitches, but also when you throw a strike they can hammer it,” Kingston said. “They’re two guys that are really big in the mix to be considered for that leadoff spot and maybe the two hole as well, so you might see both those guys there.” If Campbell does get the nod, he’ll give South Carolina a dangerous option on the base path, even if he struggles to hit, Kingston said. “Twice this week he scored a run without the benefit of a hit. He walked, he stole second, he stole third and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Today he walked, he moved to second on a wild pitch, he stole third and scored on another sacrifice fly,” Kingston said of Campbell. “So that kind of stuff helps an offense. Because sometimes it’s hard to group hits together, and he can give you some instant offense. So he’s a tough out, he can drive the ball, but also once he gets on base, he tends to score because of his speed.” South Carolina opens its season on Feb. 16 against VMI at Founders Park. THE STATE
  8. Carlos Cortes looks to pick up where he left off as a freshman January 29, 2018 It took more than a month for Carlos Cortes to catch his stride as a freshman on the South Carolina baseball team. Listed by D1Baseball as the No. 18 overall high school prospect in the country, first-year expectations were sky-high for Cortes, who was selected by the New York Mets in the 20th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. But the struggle was real in his first 14 games with the Gamecocks. Cortes, a starter in seven of those contests, carried a batting average just below the Mendoza line, hitting .188 (6-for-32) with 2 RBI and 2 runs. “Trying to get into the lineup, I was just trying to get a hit every other at bat and obviously I wasn’t getting a hit at all for a while,” Cortes said. “I tried very hard and kept trying. It wasn’t working, so I eventually said, ‘Screw it. Go back to the basics and play.’” Things started to get back to normal when Cortes landed a spot in the lineup in the Friday showdown with ace pitcher Casey Mize on the mound for Auburn. Cortes went 3-for-4. “The hits collected the rest of the weekend,” Cortes said. “Hit a grand slam, and that’s when everything started clicking again.” Finally, he added, “It felt normal again.” Cortes, who played 27 games in left field and 15 as the designated hitter, finished the 2017 season second on the team in batting average, hitting .286 (48-for-168) with a team-high 12 home runs and 41 RBI. Against SEC opponents, he carried a .327 average with 7 homers and 23 RBI. An All-SEC Tournament team member, Cortes was rated as the best freshman in the conference last season by Baseball America. “You know what you’re going to get out of him,” outfielder TJ Hopkins said. “You’re going to get a fiery player. Just plays the game hard. He’s very talented and his personality comes out on the baseball field. “I always mess around with him and say baseball is in his blood, ‘You were meant to be out here,’ stuff like that, but he’s just an overall great player. In my eyes, he’s the best in the country.” First-year head coach Mark Kingston already plans to bat Cortes third for South Carolina’s opener against VMI on Feb 16. It’s familiar territory for Cortes, who hit from that spot 24 times last season. “He’s one of the premier hitters in the country, and we’re lucky to have him,” Kingston said. “He’s worked extremely hard. He wants to take his game to the next level. He had a great second half of the season last year. … He still has a lot to work on, which, to me, is encouraging, because he’s great now. He can take it to an absolute elite level.” Almost 12 months removed from his first at-bat for the Gamecocks, Cortes believes he’s “a little bit more prepared, a little bit more mature,” as he heads into Year 2. “No pressure going in,” he said. “Just relaxing and playing the game, playing it to have fun, having fun and just competing.” On Monday morning, Cortes was named to Baseball America’s All-America third-team.
  9. What coach Mark Kingston said in 2018 opening press conference January 25, 2018 COLUMBIA, S.C. — Hope springs eternal for new South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston, who met with reporters on Thursday at Founders Park. The first-year coach takes over for Chad Holbrook, after spending the last three seasons at South Florida. Below are a few of the highlights from the press conference, on the eve of the Gamecocks first preseason scrimmage series of the new year. Opening… “The last six or seven months have been great. It’s been great getting a feel for the city, for the university, for our fans, for our team. But now, I’m extremely anxious to get this thing started and actually play some baseball games and get on the field for a full spring practice. It’s what we’ve all been working very hard for, so we’re anxious to get started. I know I’m speaking for our coaching staff, our players – we’re anxious to get back on the field and start showing what we’re all about.” On the pitching staff… “It’s a work in progress. I think everybody knows Adam Hill, assuming he’s healthy, will be our Friday night guy. After that, there’s a lot of guys that are being evaluated over the next three weeks. You’re looking at [Cody] Morris. You’re looking at the two freshmen, [Carmen] Mlodzinski and Logan Chapman. Eddie Demurias could be considered. Rich Chapman could be considered. Gage Hinson, a JUCO transfer, could be considered, so that’s the main group of guys that will be looked at as starters at this point, so now it’s open to them to win a job.” Adam Hill’s health “We were very conservative with him this fall. He pitched a lot last spring and summer. He’s 100 percent ready to go.” Replacing Tyler Johnson, the closer “Much like our starters, that’s to be determined. When you don’t return guys in roles, you have to put them in situations, to see who handles it best. Eddy Demurias is obviously one of the guys we’ll look at there. Rich Chapman is a guy we’ll look at there. Sawyer Bridges, thus far, has looked really good and he may have the stuff and the makeup to be a guy who will be looked at. We’ll have options. It’s just a matter of who is the best options. That’s what the next three weeks are for, to figure that out. Even through intra-squads and scrimmages, sometimes you get a feel for who you think that’s going to be, but then when the lights turn on, you get a different look, too. “This will be a work in progress. By no means will we have an Omaha team figured out on Day 1 of scrimmages or even of opening day. Our job is to continue to evaluate where guys are. And, at the end of the day, figure out where all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. We can go into it with an idea, but then we have to evaluate it as we go.” The middle infield “The middle infield situation, it’s the same guys that you’re probably familiar with, it’s [Madison] Stokes and [L.T.] Tolbert, the two leading candidates at shortstop. [Noah] Campbell, Tolbert and [Justin] Roe are probably the top candidates at second base. It’s just a matter of, once again, is how the pieces fit. What our guys need to realize and what our fans need to realize is the pieces of the puzzle dictate where you play guys, so you may see an L.T. Tolbert at first, because Campbell has to play second. There’s a lot of moving pieces here and so what our job is to figure out what is the best collective team to put on the field.” The outfield mixture “We have guys that can play multiple spots and over the next three weeks, we’ll play them. [Carlos] Cortes will see some action in left and right. [Danny] Blair will primarily be a centerfielder, becaue I think he’s that good, defensively, that if he’s in the game, he’ll be in centerfield. [T.J.] Hopkins will get work in left and and center, maybe a little bit in right. [Kyle] Jacobson will get work in center and in left. Olson, I think, is a pure rightfielder, so he’ll get the majority of his work there.”
  10. South Carolina baseball starts 2018 unranked by most polls January 23, 2018 South Carolina baseball is facing a lot of uncertainty in 2018: The Gamecocks have a new head coach in Mark Kingston and an inexperienced pitching staff, not to mention a recent pitching coach change after fall practices ended. And all that uncertainty has left USC in an unusual position heading into its first scrimmages of the year this weekend — unranked. Baseball America released its preseason top 25 poll on Tuesday, and South Carolina did not make the cut. It’s just the third time in the past 10 years the outlet has not included the Gamecocks in its preseason rankings. D1Baseball.com also unveiled its preseason poll this past week, and South Carolina wasn’t on that list either, marking the first time since 2009 that the Gamecocks have entered a season unranked in two of the four major polls for collegiate baseball. The other two, the coaches poll and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, have not yet been released. The good news for Gamecock fans is that another respected outlet, Collegiate Baseball, pegged USC at No. 19 in its preseason rankings. Also, the pundits for D1Baseball.com don’t think South Carolina will be out of their rankings all year. In response to a fan question about the poll, one of the writers, Aaron Fitt said, “I’m fairly confident we’ll see both (Clemson and South Carolina) in the Top 25 as the season progresses. Both teams could easily have ranked in our preseason Top 25, but we’ll wait a bit and let some of those less established arms prove themselves.” Fitt’s colleague, Kendall Rogers, added in response to another question that the Gamecocks were “heavily in the discussion for our Top 25” and predicted that they would make the NCAA tournament for the 17th time in the last 19 years. As expected, the SEC continued to dominate the rankings for both D1Baseball and Baseball America, with eight teams in the top 17 of each poll. South Carolina baseball opens its season with scrimmages open to the public this weekend and its first game against VMI on Feb. 16 at Founders Park.
  11. Jerry Meyers moves into new position with USC January 19, 2018 jerry Meyers has been hired back to work in South Carolina’s athletic department after taking a medical leave of absence from his position as USC’s pitching coach in November. The former longtime Gamecocks baseball assistant will move into his new role as Assistant Director of Athletics Development, USC AD Ray Tanner announced Friday morning. Meyers will take part in fund raising duties and will work closely with former South Carolina student athletes. “I appreciate Coach Tanner giving me this opportunity,” Meyers said in a release. “My family and I love this University and Columbia is our home. I always have had the aspirations to get into athletics administration at some point in my career. I am grateful and am excited to start this next chapter and continue to be a part of the Gamecock family.” Meyers spent 16 years on South Carolina’s baseball staff and was one of the top pitching coaches in the country. He also had assistant coaching stints at Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington, Gulf Coast Community College and served as a graduate assistant at South Alabama. “I think Jerry will do a fantastic job for Gamecock Athletics,” Tanner said. “Jerry brings a unique perspective to our development areas as a former coach. Jerry will help us build a bridge between the Letterman’s Association, the athletics department and our former student-athletes. He is a great recruiter and as a head coach at Old Dominion (2004-10), he had to play a major role in fund raising for his program and the department.”
  12. Five observations from South Carolina’s baseball schedule November 29, 2017 South Carolina baseball released its schedule on Wednesday. Here are some observations: First weekend test will come vs. Clemson South Carolina’s opponents for the opening two weekends of the season should not provide much of a challenge because the Gamecocks will face a VMI team that finished 24-34 last season and a Charleston Southern team that went 22-29. Charlotte, Winthrop and Furman will provide decent midweek tests. All three mid-majors had winning records a year ago, but the first true test for USC will come the first weekend in March against Clemson. Tough welcome to the SEC Mark Kingston’s first SEC series will be against a tough opponent when the Gamecocks play defending national champion Florida. The Gators return a ton of talent and are expected to reach Omaha and contend for the national title again in 2018. Florida is attempting to be the first repeat national champion since South Carolina in 2010-2011. USC does get the Gators at home. The two teams split a pair of games the last time Florida came to Columbia before Game 3 was rained out. Looking for revenge The April 3 game against North Carolina will be a big one for the Gamecocks, who were embarrassed the past two seasons by North Carolina’sdouble-digit wins in Charlotte. North Carolina is projected to make the College World Series in 2018, and the Gamecocks could boost their NCAA tournament resume, regain bragging rights and remove some of the pain from the past two years with a win. Hard schedule South Carolina’s SEC West opponents are Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. All four of those matchups will take place in the final six weekends of the regular season with the Gamecocks traveling to Texas A&M and Arkansas. Three of those teams made the NCAA tournament, with Ole Miss being left out. LSU and Texas A&M made the College World Series, joining Florida, as three of the eight CWS participants from last year are on USC’s 2018 schedule. Holbrook back in Columbia Gamecocks announce 2018 schedule, first season under Mark Kingston Former USC coach Chad Holbrook will return to Columbia on May 9 when his College of Charleston Cougars face the Gamecocks at Spirit Communications Park. The matchup will be hyped up as Holbrook against his former team, but Holbrook tweeted that the game will be Cougars vs. Gamecocks, not Holbrook vs. Gamecocks, and it is a great thing for his players.
  13. How South Carolina’s new pitching coach is aiming to make up for lost time November 28, 2017 Skylar Meade News Conference — 11/28/17 Skylar Meade was hired as South Carolina’s pitching coach nearly a month after the Gamecocks wrapped fall practices. The 2018 regular season begins in February. It’s a unique situation that doesn’t come with a handbook, Meade admitted Tuesday afternoon at Founders Park. The 33-year-old is in midst of a crash course in getting to know his players before he positions them for real competition. “You just got to roll with the punches and figure it out,” Meade told a crowd of reporters. Meade officially became Jerry Meyers’ replacement last Monday. He’s beginning to settle in Columbia after three successful years at Michigan State. Meade’s résumé made him a solid choice. The former Louisville pitcher has been a pitching coach for a decade, climbing from Eastern Illinois to Middle Tennessee State to MSU. In the release that announced Meade’s hire, first-year USC coach Mark Kingston noted his “proven track record of leading his staff to achieve at an elite level, including the third-best ERA in the NCAA in 2016.” Pitching is a question mark for Carolina this spring. The Gamecocks lost two weekend starters and their top three relievers from a season ago. Enter Meade, whose Spartans carded a 3.45 earned run average under his tutelage. Michigan State in 2016 set a school record with 466 strikeouts. “I’m really big on presence and how you present yourself,” Meade said. “I think guys that carry themselves with the chest out and have the bravado, I think good things tend to happen to them, especially as pitchers. “So we started talking about that as recently as yesterday in that meeting. So guys who are confident, that carry themselves a certain way, go about their business without screwing around, those are the kind of guys I certainly vibe with. “That certainly doesn’t mean I’m not having a whole heck of a lot of fun. It’s a blast to be out there. All of the guys – not just the pitchers I’ve met – those guys carry themselves very, very well. They’re a humble group from what I can tell from phone conversations, meeting them in person, texting with different guys throughout the day. “So I think they have the qualities needed to do the things we want to do here.” Meade got his first taste of USC baseball last March when the Spartans dropped both games of a weekend series at Founders. The park averaged a crowd of 6,838. “To actually coach down here and see the atmosphere live and in person was outstanding,” Meade said. “So I felt like I had a real good impression and that was one of things that I think made things a little easier with our team at Michigan State, is them having played here. “So those guys fully understood, when this opportunity arose, it’s something you couldn’t really pass up.” Meyers spent 15 seasons with the Gamecocks – including the 2011 national championship run – before announcing an indefinite medical leave of absence earlier this month. Meade said a meeting with his predecessor is in the works. “You’re getting a lot of info from different guys, but nobody knows the staff better than Jerry,” Meade said. “So I’m excited to do that. I appreciate he’s willing to do that with me.” It’s all part of Meade’s hurried getting-to-know-you process. “To say I’m going to know who’s a real dude and who’s not just by playing catch, that’s not going to happen,” Meade said. “But we’re going to try and get real inventive. “My communication is going to be constant with these guys throughout the break when they do their winter program, so that we can all be as dialed in as possible when we get back Jan. 16 and start preparing for the season.”
  14. South Carolina baseball to hire Skylar Meade as pitching coach November 20, 2017 South Carolina may have found its next pitching coach. According to a report by Brian Sakowski of Perfect Game USA, the Gamecocks are going to hire Skylar Meade for the position. Meade previously held the same title at Michigan State. South Carolina has been without a pitching coach since Jerry Meyers took a leave of absence for medical reasons a couple weeks ago. Meade has led Michigan State pitchers to back-to-back Big 10 ERA crowns, according to his Michigan State bio. Meade has also led Spartan pitchers to the top 3 strikeout seasons in program history.
  15. Gamecocks baseball announces another showdown with North Carolina November 15, 2017 South Carolina baseball will continue to face North Carolina at BB&T Ballpark in 2018 and 2019, the schools and Charlotte Knights announced Wednesday. The Gamecocks will be the home team for the next game in the series, which will be played on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. UNC is the designated host for the 2019 contest. The date for the 2019 game is not yet set. The Gamecocks and Tar Heels have played in Charlotte the previous two seasons in front of standing-room only crowds. In all, a total of 20,254 fans have crossed through the gates of BB&T Ballpark in 2016-17. “We’re extremely pleased to announce the extension of the North Carolina-South Carolina series at BB&T Ballpark for the next two years,” said Knights’ Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski. “The success, tradition, and fan support of each school and their baseball programs is second to none and this game has become a signature event in Charlotte. We look forward to hosting the game in 2018 and 2019 and hopefully long into the future.” The Tar Heels have dominated the series as of late, defeating South Carolina 20-5 last season in Charlotte and topping the Gamecocks 15-0 in 2016. The rest of South Carolina’s baseball schedule will be released at a later date. THE STATE
  16. Here’s what USC’s pitching signees thought when coach Jerry Meyers abruptly left November 09, 2017 Last Friday’s announcement that South Carolina pitching coach Jerry Meyers would be taking an indefinite medical leave of absence and not return to Gamecocks baseball came as a shock to fans of the program. For the high school standouts committed to play for USC, it was no less abrupt — but it still did not sway their decision to pick the Gamecocks. At Northwestern High School, where star pitchers John Gilreath and Wesley Sweatt signed their letters of intent to play for South Carolina on Wednesday, both players said they first heard about Meyers’ departure last week during personal calls from new USC head coach Mark Kingston. “I didn’t anticipate any of that coming. I just got a phone call from Coach Kingston and he said, ‘This is the situation we’re presented with. Coach Meyers isn’t going to be returning this year.’ And that’s just basically what it was,” Gilreath, who will enroll in college early in January, said. Meyers was key to recruiting both Gilreath and Sweatt, they said, and they both expressed admiration for the veteran coach. “He’s a great pitching coach but an even better person and I wish the best for him,” Sweatt said. But when it came down to it, both players have been committed to the Gamecocks for at least a year and already underwent a much bigger coaching change when Kingston was hired this past summer to replace departed head coach Chad Holbrook, and they both said they never wavered in their commitment. “I’m a Gamecock. I’m not committed to any other school, so when that happens, there was no doubt in my mind that I’m going to go there and continue on what I’ve been working so hard to achieve. The plan’s always been to go to South Carolina,” Gilreath said. “When Coach Holbrook left, I didn’t waver in my commitment. I was still committed and I’ve kept that same mindset all the way through, even with Coach Kingston coming in and all the rest of the stuff that’s happened.” Sweatt expressed similar sentiments. “Nothing went through my mind. I’m still committed to USC. I grew up a USC fan, that’s where I’ve always wanted to go,” he said. Still, Meyers’ leave of absence complicates South Carolina’s already unsettled pitching situation — the Gamecocks lose almost 70 percent of their innings from last season, the staff has no left-handers with college experience (a situation that likely led to Gilreath deciding to enroll early) and Kingston has been blunt in his assessment that the pitchers still on the roster need to be better. Meyers coached at South Carolina from 1996-2004 and again from 2010 until his departure, presiding over pitching staffs that guided the Gamecocks to national titles in 2010 and 2011 and a College World Series in 2012. THE STATE
  17. USC Pitching Coach Jerry Meyers taking medical leave of absence NOVEMBER 3, 2017 Jerry Meyers, a man who assumed much of the responsibility for shepherding the South Carolina Gamecocks to two national baseball titles, announced Friday he’s taking a leave of absence for medical reasons. Jerry Meyers USC Head Coach Mark Kingston said a national search for a new pitching coach will begin immediately to replace Meyers, who spent two stints totaling 16 years with the Gamecocks baseball program. South Carolina’s Athletic Department added that they will work on placing Meyers in an alternative job in the department if his medical issues subside.
  18. USC’s Kingston on Noah Campbell: ‘The kind of player you build your program around October 26, 2017 As the baseball chopped slowly toward Cody Morris in front of the mound, Noah Campbell was already halfway down the first base line, foreshadowing what became the shortest hit in the six-inning scrimmage. An hour later, Campbell launched the longest knock of the evening. South Carolina is nearing the end of its fall season. Wednesday’s game – a 7-3 win for the Black team – was the opener to the annual Garnet and Black World Series that will conclude Friday at Founders Park. First-year Gamecocks coach Mark Kingston will make his official debut in February, beginning a 2018 season that USC fans want lasting into June. But what new faces will Kingston be taking on the ride with him? Campbell went 2-for-4 Wednesday with a home run and two runs scored. The freshman showed his athleticism in the third inning with a swinging bunt single, a steal of second base, a successful tag up to third and an easy jog home on Chris Cullen’s traditional single to center field. In the sixth, Campbell took his classmate Cam Tringali for a solo shot that rattled the set of palm trees well beyond the right field wall. “Noah’s an elite player – not just for a freshman,” Kingston said. “Noah’s an elite player. I talk about it all the time, my preference to have speed and power. When you can get both in the same place, that’s pretty special. “He’s a special kid from a talent standpoint. He’s a straight-A student. He’s the total package. If he continues to do what he’s doing, as he gets stronger, he’ll be one of the best players in the country.” Campbell is part of a recruiting class ranked fifth by Baseball America, South Carolina’s highest-rated bunch of newcomers in four years. Campbell comes as, perhaps, the most touted. The middle infielder was BA’s No. 111 overall prospect for last June’s draft. He turned down the Milwaukee Brewers, who selected him in the 19th round, for the Gamecocks. The Raleigh, North Carolina, native announced such a decision June 14. Kingston was hired from South Florida two weeks later. “He’s a special player,” Kingston said. “He’s the kind of player you build your program around. And he’s a big part of our future, but he’s a big part of our present as well.” Campbell played second base for the Black team Wednesday. Junior Jacob Olson started at second for the Garnet. Olson, a reigning Cape Cod League All-Star, started in right field last season. Senior shortstop Madison Stokes, an A.C. Flora product, went 3-for-3 with a home run, double and four RBIs on Wednesday. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play in the middle for us,” Kingston said. “I’m not going to rush to judgment to name who our starting middle infielders are. I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are capable. So we may have to carry (naming starters) into November, into December, into January and into early February because we’ve got a lot of guys that can get the job done.” Between both lineups Wednesday, Kingston started six freshmen. Rookie right-hander Logan Chapman., throwing for the Black, allowed two runs on three hits in three innings. “He’s right in the mix to be considered a weekend starter, as high as Saturday potentially,” Kingston said of Chapman. “He’s talented, he’s very mature for his age and he’s got a good mound presence. He’s right in the mix to be a weekend starter.” THE STATE
  19. Gamecocks Ends Fall Practice With The GARNET AND BLACK WORLD SERIES The Gamecocks will play on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and Friday at 6 p.m. to close fall practice Oct. 23, 2017 COLUMBIA -- The University of South Carolina baseball team will close out fall practice with its annual Garnet and Black World Series at Founders Park. The two-game series will take place on Wednesday, October 25 with a 4 p.m. start and Friday, October 27 with a 6 p.m. first pitch. If the teams split the pair of seven-inning games, run differential will break the tie. The Garnet and Black World Series games are free and open to the public. Fans that cannot make it to Founders Park can follow the action on Twitter (@GamecockBasebll) while GamecocksOnline.com will have recaps of both games.
  20. Pitcher making unusual jump, enrolling early with Gamecocks October 12, 2017 South Carolina baseball is getting some unexpected help on the mound for this upcoming season. Northwestern High pitcher John Gilreath announced on twitter Thursday evening that he will be enrolling at USC in January and will pitch for the Gamecocks this spring. Gilreath was previously committed to USC for the class of 2018, but he has decided to forgo his final season of high school baseball and instead will pitch for the Gamecocks. “I have made the decision to enroll early at the University of South Carolina to begin my college baseball career this season,” Gilreath said on twitter. “I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. Go Gamecocks!” The lefty finished 11-0 last season at Northwestern with a 1.33 ERA. He struck out 81 batters in 74 innings and was named the Rock Hill Herald’s baseball player of the year after leading the Trojans to a state title. Gilreath’s addition should help a South Carolina pitching staff that lost two weekend starters and its top five bullpen arms from last season. The Gamecocks must replace nearly 70 percent of their innings from last 2016, and USC does not return a lefty that appeared in a game last season.
  21. Gamecocks coach Mark Kingston tells his pitching staff to step it up in fall practice October 12, 2017 While new South Carolina head baseball coach Mark Kingston likes where his hitters are as fall practices near a close, he is still waiting on his pitchers to catch up. At a scrimmage open to the public Wednesday, the Gamecocks played a 7-5 six-inning game that included plenty of walks, hard-hit balls and even a home run. For Kingston, that was encouraging in some ways, but disappointing in others. “Our hitters are ahead of our pitchers right now. Our hitters are taking a great approach, we’re driving the baseball, we have more walks than strikeouts,” Kingston said. “So I’m very pleased with our hitting approach right now, and we need to continue to find the pitchers that will be able to help us come springtime.” To a certain extent, that’s to be expected, as the Gamecocks return almost all of their field position starters from last season while losing three of their top four pitchers by innings pitched. The only hurler who’s back, right-hander Adam Hill, has been shut down for the rest of fall practices, Kingston said Wednesday. “He threw a lot of innings last year, he threw during the summer, so we’re just being conservative, let him rest a little bit, let him get stronger come spring,” said Kingston. As a result, a swarm of young pitchers have been getting the chance to impress Kingston, who singled out sophomore Cody Morris and freshman Carmen Mlodzinski for playing well last Thursday. On the whole, however, Kingston said Wednesday that his staff needs to perform better. “They’re all going to get the opportunities, so it’s up to them to take advantage of it,” Kingston said. “Guys just need to attack the strike zone. If they can’t do it, then it’s going to be hard for us with pitching. So that’s what the fall is for: figuring out who can throw strikes, who’s willing to do it, who has the ability to do it.” And while the Gamecocks are still four months away from the start of the 2018 season, Kingston stressed Wednesday that fall practices aren’t just for keeping sharp — they also impact playing time in the spring. “If you can’t do it in the fall, I’m not going to assume that it’s going to magically appear in the spring,” Kingston said. “Guys are showing what they’re capable of, and so if they want to pitch in the spring, they better prove it right now.” Kingston’s philosophy on the importance of fall practice extends to all players, he said, noting that practices have been longer than what some players were used to in the past as he and his staff squeeze in every allowable minute on the field. “We’re challenging them in practice. We’re allowed 20 hours per week of practice time, so we’re not going to go 19 hours and 59 minutes, we’re going to go 20 hours, because that’s what’s allowed,” Kingston said. “We’re going to make sure those hours are very well planned and that we’re pushing them. That’s the only way I know. That’s what I was taught from long ago from some of the best college baseball coaches in the country: Practice every minute they give you and make sure you make it hard, so guys learn what it takes.”
  22. Gamecocks baseball coach Mark Kingston thinks he has an impressive team October 06, 2017 South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston touched on a number of topics after the Gamecocks held Scout Day on Thursday at Founders Park. With a handful of draft-eligible juniors, including TJ Hopkins, LT Tolbert, Adam Hill, Jacob Olson and Chris Cullen – plus seniors Madison Stokes, Jonah Bride and Hunter Taylor, Kingston came away impressed with the team’s efforts for the scouts on hand. “I thought a lot guys did some things to get scouts’ attention,” the Gamecocks first-year coach said. “Overall, the approach of the team was good. Saw pitchers that threw some pretty good velocity out there. We had some really good 60 times. Our batting practice today was pretty impressive in terms of power. I thought you saw a lot of good things out of our guys today.” As fall practice gets into full swing, Taylor has been a player that is becoming more impressive to Kingston. The senior catcher from Onley, Virginia, played in 37 games last season and hit only .212 but has taken a leadership role. “Hunter Taylor is providing the most energy and leadership, I think,” Kingston said. “He has pro-level talent. What I want to do is just make sure he’s a confident kid. He works extremely hard, brings great energy to the game for us. I just want to make sure he understands that we think he’s a good player.” Cullen was the starter last season until suffering a knee injury. He is still not back to 100 percent but is out battling every day. Kingston understands that at least two catchers will play, he’s just not sure how the innings will be dispersed yet. He does want to see improvement though. “They’ve been solid, but we need to be better behind the plate,” Kingston said. “Chris Cullen is very talented as well. They’re all holding their ground, but they all need to be better.” Sophomore pitcher Cody Morris also has impressed this fall. His fastball is reaching the 95-97 range after being in the low 90s last season, in which he went 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 10 starts. “It’s just a matter now if he’s harnessing that,” Kingston said. “It’s one thing to throw hard; it’s another thing to make sure you’re a polished pitcher. He’s moving in that direction. He’s one of the guys under consideration to be a weekend guy.” The Gamecocks scrimmaged after performing drills for the scouts, and freshman pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski had another solid outing. “I thought Mlodzinski was really, really good today. Good fastball, good breaking ball, good poise,” Kingston said. “I thought he stood out among the young guys that pitched today. I thought he looked like he could really help us.” Kingston also mentioned several freshmen have shown flashes at the plate. Kyle Jacobson, Noah Campbell, Ian Jenkins and Jordan Holladay all have to find places in the field but have shown they have the ability to perform at the plate.
  23. Kingston Announces Baseball Staff Current and Couch Join Staff; Meyers, Lake and Lusk Retained July 26, 2017 Head coach Mark Kingston has officially announced the 2017-18 University of South Carolina baseball coaching staff. Mike Current joins the Carolina baseball program as the recruiting coordinator following a stint with Kingston at USF, while longtime Gamecock Jerry Meyers has been retained as the pitching coach. Stuart Lake will return as an assistant coach and camp coordinator, Trip Couch has been named the Director of Player Development, and Tyson Lusk has been retained as the Director of Baseball Operations. “We are very excited to announce our baseball staff moving forward with South Carolina Baseball,” said Coach Kingston. “This group shares my vision for what this program should be. We will collaborate daily to make sure our student-athletes reach their potential and are well positioned to attain all of their goals on and off the field. The additions of Mike Current and Trip Couch, and retention of Jerry Meyers, Stuart Lake, and Tyson Luskgive us a group as accomplished as any in the country. Our players will be thrilled to be mentored daily by this outstanding group.” Current spent the past three seasons at USF with Kingston, serving as the team's assistant coach, recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and working with the outfielders. From 2015-17, Current helped the Bulls make a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. “Mike is one of the brightest, most detail-oriented young coaches in the country,” noted Kingston. “He has been with me for nine years, and I have full trust in his talents. He thinks the game at a very high level, and the people around him will be challenged to do the same. A skilled talent evaluator, he will lead our recruiting efforts, while also coaching our hitters and outfielders.” In 2017, USF hit .287 as a team, with three players averaging over .330. Shortstop Kevin Merrell led the Bulls and The American Athletic Conference with a .383 average and, along with DH Luke Borders and outfielder Duke Stunkel Jr., earned all-conference honors. Merrell was selected 33rd overall in the MLB Amateur Draft by the Oakland Athletics, the third-highest drafted player in program history, and was named an All-American by four different publications. During the 2016 season, the Bulls belted 36 home runs, the most for the team since 2010. USF also posted 66 stolen bases, giving the Bulls a two-year total of 140, the highest two-year stolen base total since 2002-03. In Current’s first season at USF, the Bulls reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002 after hitting an AAC best .277 in conference play (a 40-point improvement over 2014). Shortstop Kyle Teaf earned NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament honors and was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 30th round of the MLB Amateur Draft. Catcher Levi Borders earned first team All-AAC honors and second baseman Kevin Merrell was named a second-team Freshman All-American by the NCBWA. Current was also instrumental in helping the Bulls to a consensus top-10 recruiting class in the fall of 2015 (No. 5 by Perfect Game, No. 7 according to D1Baseball.com, No. 8 ranking by Baseball America and No. 9 from Collegiate Baseball), the program’s first ever top-25 recruiting class. Current arrived at USF after playing a major role in the transformation of the Illinois State University program during a nine-year stint in Normal. Over his final five seasons, ISU racked up 173 wins and picked up a pair of Missouri Valley Conference regular season championships, an MVC tournament title and twice set the program’s record for wins. Illinois State hitters led the MVC in runs scored and OPS three times in his final four seasons, while 19 Redbird position players earned All-MVC honors and 10 were named first team all-conference, both were more than any other MVC team over that time period. A total of 53 student-athletes earned All-MVC honors under Current, including Kevin Tokarski who became the first Redbird ever to win MVC Player of the Year honors in 2010. In all, Current has coached 49 players who have been drafted and six of whom have reached the Major League level. Regarded as one of the nation’s top pitching coaches, Jerry Meyers recently completed his 15th year associated with the Gamecock baseball program. Meyers, who served as an assistant at South Carolina from the 1997-2004 seasons, returned to Carolina in August of 2010 to coach the pitchers following six years as head coach at Old Dominion. He was the pitching coach when the Gamecocks won the national title in 2011, as well as when USC returned to the College World Series championship series in 2012. “Jerry was a very easy decision for me to keep on staff,” noted Kingston. “He is very respected by his pitchers, but also around the baseball world among scouts and college coaches. His familiarity with USC baseball has already been a major asset in my transition. He is a calming influence on our players, and as a former Division I head coach, a great sounding board for me. He has won a National Championship here, and I think he can help us do it again.” In 2017, The South Carolina pitching staff logged a 3.72 team ERA with 223 earned runs allowed on 470 hits in 540.0 innings pitched. The Gamecocks struck out 563 batters while walking just 219 and limiting opponents to a .233 batting average. South Carolina's 3.85 ERA in SEC games was third in the conference as well. The Gamecocks had 225 strikeouts in 243.0 innings during conference play. Under Meyers tutelage, five Gamecock hurlers were selected in the 2017 MLB Draft, including Clarke Schmidt (first round – Yankees), Wil Crowe(second round – Nationals), Tyler Johnson (fifth round – White Sox), Josh Reagan (15th round – Athletics) and John Parke (21st round – White Sox). Lake joined the Gamecocks’ staff in 2017 as the Coordinator of Baseball Administration and Director of Player Development, after serving as the head coach at Charleston Southern from 2009-16. He moved into the volunteer coach role midway through the 2017 season. Lake previously served as the Gamecocks’ volunteer assistant from 1999-2002 and logged stints as an assistant coach at The Citadel, Ole Miss and College of Charleston. He was named the Big South Coach of the Year in 2011. “Stuart was also an easy decision to retain on staff,” said Kingston. “He knows our state as well as anybody, and is well-respected among his peers and players alike. Like Jerry, a former Division I Head Coach, he possesses skills that are not easily found in assistants. He has great organizational and leadership skills, and great perspective on what we need to be successful here.” Couch comes to Carolina from the University of Houston, where he logged stints as an assistant coach from 1995-2000 and again from 2010-17. Most recently, he served as the Cougars’ recruiting coordinator and was responsible for coaching the outfielders and catches and implementing the short game offensively. During his time in Houston, he helped the Cougars capture four regular season conference titles and four conference tournament championships. Couch also served as an assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette (1991-92) and at the University of Texas (2001). Overall, he helped his teams to 11 NCAA postseason tournaments. Couch also has experience as a Major League scout, working with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was a member of the Team USA coaching staff in 1999 and served as coach at the Area Code Games as well as on the staff of the Pony Team at the Tournament of Stars where the 18U USA National Team is selected. “When this job presented itself, I immediately knew I wanted Trip along to help maximize the program,” noted Kingston. “While he can no longer recruit off campus or coach players on the field, he can be a major asset in the overall development of our program for both players and coaches. He is very respected as a former nine-year professional scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and most recently as recruiting coordinator for the 2017 NCAA Regional host Houston Cougars. He is an amazing baseball mind, and will be a tremendous mentor to our players as they navigate through the demands of being a South Carolina student-athlete.” Lusk joined the Gamecock staff in August of 2013. He came to Columbia after four years as clubhouse/equipment manager with the University of North Carolina and eight seasons overall with the Tar Heel baseball program. Before entering his role as equipment manager, Lusk was the head student manager for UNC from 2005-09. While with the Tar Heels program, Lusk worked with six College World Series teams and eight NCAA Tournament squads. “From the second I met Tyson he has been an incredible help in my transition to South Carolina,” said Kingston. “He is a tireless worker, amazingly organized, and on top of every conceivable detail. He has been around numerous Omaha teams and knows exactly how things should be done at the highest level. We are lucky to have him in our office, and the entire organization is better because of his abilities.”
  24. Gamecocks baseball adds noted recruiter to staff position July 13, 2017 South Carolina’s Mark Kingston came in with a reputation as a top-flight recruiter. He just added an NCAA Tournament team’s recruiting coordinator in a staff position. South Carolina picked up Houston’s recruiting coordinator Trip Couch as the team’s Director of Player Development, The State confirmed Wednesday night. The move was first reported by the Houston Chronicle. Couch spent seven seasons with the Cougars. In that time, Houston hosted a pair of NCAA Regionals, won the AAC multiple times and posted three seasons with at least 42 wins in the past four years. Couch recruited Trey Cumbie, a first-team All-American in 2017, three freshman All-Americans in 2016 and brought in a top-35 class in 2015. He was also the team's hitting and offensive coach, recruiting coordinator and he also performed administrative duties, including travel and scheduling. Couch, who is from Charlotte, had also been an assistant coach at Louisiana Lafayette and Texas and as a scout with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kingston, who replaced Chad Holbrook after the 2017 season, had already retained pitching coach Jerry Meyer and brought Mike Current from USF.
  25. Mark Kingston adds assistant coach July 02, 2017 South Carolina head baseball coach Mark Kingston has made his first hire to fill out the Gamecocks staff. Kingston has hired Mike Current, who was previously an assistant with Kingston at USF. Current served as the recruiting coordinator and hitting coach for the Bulls. He still has to hire a pitching coach at USC. His pitching coach at USF, Billy Mohl, was named the new head coach for the Bulls. MIKE CURRENT AT USF A look at Current’s time with the USF Bulls, according to gousfbulls.com ▪ He served as the team’s assistant coach, recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and worked with the outfielders. ▪ During the 2017 season, the Bulls hit 49 home runs, tallied 114 doubles, scored 353 runs and recorded 322 RBIs. In 2016, the Bulls hit 36 home runs. ▪ Current helped the Bulls to a consensus top 10 recruiting class in the fall of 2015 (No. 5 by Perfect Game, No. 7 according to D1Baseball.com, No. 8 ranking by Baseball America and No. 9 from Collegiate Baseball). It was the program’s first ever top 25 recruiting class.
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