Going into opening weekend in SEC play, the Gamecocks were on a four game losing streak, including a bad loss to Davidson, and faced a tall task in facing a major league rotation consisting of star pitchers like Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.
All the rave around the program seemed heading in a downward spiral, as the program once again looked like it was going to die out down the stretch and once again have a negative season.
However, in present day, the program is soaring high. The energy around the team feels great, the players are electric, and the Gamecocks look to be on pace for hosting a regional.
Going into the weekend series at LSU, South Carolina has won its last three series in SEC play, including key wins over top programs like Florida and Georgia.
So what changed the energy of the program and turned on the switch to really force the program in the right direction?
Sunday, March 21st. The Gamecocks look as they are about to be swept on opening weekend, after brutal performances on Friday and Saturday, including getting no hit at the hands of Jack Leiter. Down a run in the bottom of the 7th inning, South Carolina was against the wall and needed every pitch they could get.
With Junior Brett Kerry on the mound, they were looking to hold the Commodores to no runs as every strike is crucial in a one run game. Kerry would quickly strike out Gonzales, a righty, on a pitch clearly outside of the zone.
Next up Came Bradfield, a lefty, and Kerry threw a pitch with the same exact location, yet the umpire called it a ball instead, giving the call to the lefty but when the same pitch was thrown opposite, Kerry couldn’t draw the call.
Coach Kingston Didn’t like this at all, and said one word that started it all. “Outside”.
Kingston would soon come out of the dugout to back his players, and would soon be ejected on the weakest ejection call you’ll ever see.
After that, Kingston made sure he got his two cents in, fighting for his team. You can even hear him backing his team, saying things to the umpire in defense of his squad. Although this is viewed as a minor event in the season, this really shifted the momentum of the team and gave a whole new energy to the lineup.
The team finished that game by scoring two more runs and beating the #1 team in the land on the back of coach Kingston.
Since that moment, the team has gone 8-2 in league play, and risen back up 14 spots in the D1 baseball rankings. When you know your coach is willing to fight to gain every inch they can and put the team on his back, then it helps the team grow.
In that moment, Kingston put the team on his back, and ever since, the team has been playing off the energy of their head coach.
Although the season is still young, Mark Kingston is doing a great job by not only leading the team to a top spot in the SEC, but also by showing his energy in the team and making South Carolina one of the most fun and energetic squads to watch down the stretch.