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Coach Kingston Era Yardcocks


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The day I was born my dad left to play in a softball tournament. The weekend I was sent home, I was in the stands. I played all through little league and through school. I've won divisions, conferences, districts, states, and even had a walk off my final at bat at home my senior year. Most of my life has been spent on, around, or watching Baseball. I say that, to say this ... I believe Coach Kingston will force the University to expand the trophy case behind center field at Carolina Stadium (don't you dare try to tell me it's got a new name either) before he retires from Baseball. 

I remember during the Women's Basketball game against Kentucky a few years ago, sitting in Coach Tanner's suite and turning to Coach and saying, "How could you let Monte Lee go to Clemson?" I was trying to be polite and not call out Coach Holbrook, knowing he was hand selected, but was also trying to pry a little. Of course he didn't give me any juicy details but just said, "It was a chance of a lifetime for him." (or an offer he couldn't turn down. Something like that). 

Fast forward a few years, I really expected Coach Holbrook to get one more season, I wasn't a big fan of his, but just didn't see getting let go happening just yet (I thought 1 more year). Coach Tanner surprised us all, gave him the boot and made a hire that made most, if not all, Carolina fans scratch their heads. After some research it started to look like this wasn't that bad of a hire. Young guy that's made some stops at some major programs at peak points in those programs past. I'm ok with this experience. 

I'm a firm believer in "looks". Under Coach Holbrook, we didn't "look" like an SEC caliber Baseball team. We had a lot of undersized guys that, in the new bat era, just couldn't produce enough at the plate. The moment Coach Kingston stepped behind the mic to be introduced as the new head coach I said, "Damn, he looks like a ball player." Some people are athletes and can play anything you put them on the field for. Some people just "look" like they were born to be Baseball players/coaches, and Coach Kingston is the exact definition. You put a ball cap on him, and it's like it was invented to be on someone's head like his. Now, you look at the guys we have in our lineup. We have guys that "look" like ball players again. Even our smaller guys, have size to them. Not including pitchers, we have 5 guys on the entire roster that are under 6 foot, and 2 of those are 5'11". If I didn't just look it up, I would have never guess Ian Jenkins was sub 6 foot after seeing him last night. Dude looks like a middle linebacker as we speak. We finally "look" like a damn Baseball team again. 

It's still early on in his tenure at South Carolina, but you can start to see the type of team(s) he's going to put on the field. He's going to have guys on the mound that are going to pound the strike zone. He's recruiting top tier guys that can not just do that, but are going to have some really good pitches and velocity. Coach Meade I've really been impressed with as well. That's one that I hope we can hold on to. There's going to be games that pounding the strike zone is going to give up hits and runs, and that's why he's building this Offense. Them bringing the bats back a bit is perfect timing for all of this to come together too. Coach Kingston teaching controlled aggression at the plate. We're not seeing guys going up swinging for the fences the first and every pitch of the ball game anymore. We have guys that are waiting on good pitches, no matter when they come in the at bat, and jumping on them with clean and powerful swings. We're not going to get cheated on a lot of our hacks at the plate. 

Before last season everyone asked, "What's your expectations for this season?" My response was simple, I wanted to see good Baseball again. You don't have to win every game, but if you're playing good Baseball you're giving yourself a chance to win. I believe I heard that we finished the season with the highest fielding percentage in a couple of decades? If true, that's saying something since a number of Coach Tanner's teams lead the SEC and even the country in fielding percentage. I was as happy as everybody to reach the post season, and then to make a Super was just icing on the cake. For me, year 1 was a success and then some. 

Before this season the same question came up. I felt a post season birth and making a little noise would be a great bar to reach for, but last year when we lost, we just got throttled. When we played bad, we played BAD. Record and outcome, I would be ok if they were similar if we could be more consistent in the "off" games. 

I still post season and see what happens is a realistic expectation for the season. We've looked great so far, but if we're going to continue winning through the SEC the starting pitching and Sawyer Bridges (if he's going to remain the closer) is going to have to get better. Way too many walks that have come back to haunt us.

Just a glance at the schedule and not knowing what exactly everyone is going to have this season, it looks like most of our toughest opponents are at home, which will help tremendously. We start with Georgia at home and also have Auburn, aTm, Vandy, and Kentucky. On the road we have Tenn, Bama, Florida, Mizzou, and Miss St. Florida and Miss St on the road is going to be tough, but the others, I wouldn't trade out for a home series. We have 43 games left on the schedule with 10 mid week games (including tonight against Gardner-Webb), and we're sitting at 10 wins already. If we at worst split the midweek games (looking at them I don't see that happen, but still) that puts us at 15 wins, and if we go .500 in conference (I don't see that happening either) that would be another 15 wins which one put us at 30 (which is where you need to be for people to believe your ball team is pretty good). That's also not including the Valpo series this weekend that we should take the series or any post season games. We won 32 during the regular season last year, and then 5 more in the post season for a total of 37.

This team is every bit capable of matching and then some to that record if they continue playing the way they are. I'm still not raising the bar to 40 wins and an Omaha visit ... BUT ... I would not be surprised if they really flirted with those goals. 

When we all turn gray(er) and look back at things, I think we'll look at the Coach Kingston hire as being one of the best things Coach Tanner did for this University, it's sports programs, and the fans. 

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I like the direction Baseball is heading, the team performs under Kingston, where it fell short under Holbrook. Under Holbrook recruiting fell to. Baseball takes a season really to gauge, There will be slumps but there will be highs as well. Let's see how it plays out. For now very happy and really looking forward to seeing how the Yardcocks do in SEC play. very good post Cack!! 

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