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.
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.
"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 Schmidt was 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."
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