The University of South Carolina baseball program – which effectively collapsed over the past five years under former head coach Chad Holbrook – is off to a good start under new head coach Mark Kingston.
The 47-year-old Buffalo, New York native – who guided South Florida to a 42-19 mark and an NCAA regional appearance earlier this year – has landed the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation, according to Baseball America.
That’s the good news …
The bad news? Two of South Carolina’s divisional opponents – Vanderbilt and Florida – were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 nationally in recruiting, respectively. Meanwhile SEC West powerhouse Arkansas was ranked No. 3.
“With Vanderbilt and Florida leading the way, the recruiting rankings have a heavy SEC flavor,” Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill noted. “The conference produced the top-ranked class for the seventh year in a row and a record six of this year’s top-10 classes. That success comes at a time of considerable coaching turnover in the conference, which has seen seven head coaching changes and 13 recruiting coordinator changes in the last two off-seasons.”
The Gamecocks’ incoming class consists of …
Elijah Bowers (Matthews, N.C./Weddington HS)
Noah Campbell (Cary, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons HS)
Logan Chapman (Liberty, S.C./Liberty HS)
Ridge Chapman(Spartanburg, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College)
Parker Coyne (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinett HS)
Eddy Demurias (Miami, Fla./Miami Dade College)
Gage Hinson (Spartanburg, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College)
Jordan Holladay (Sumter, S.C./Sumter HS)
Kyle Jacobsen (Acworth, Ga./Allatoona HS)
Ian Jenkins(Suwanee, Ga./Collins Hill HS)
Hunter Lomas (Blythewood, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College)
Carmen Mlodzinski (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head HS)
Shane Roberts (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dywer HS)
McClendon Sears (Sumter, S.C./Sumter HS)
Jack Stamler (Greenville, S.C./JL Mann HS)
Corey Stone(Prosperity, S.C./Mid Carolina HS)
Mason Streater (Duncan, S.C./Byrnes HS)
Cam Tringali (Columbia, S.C./Cardinal Newman HS)
“This is definitely a talented group,” Kingston said. “I look forward to seeing them this fall to see who is ready to make an immediate impact.”
After three consecutive trips to the College World Series (CWS) finals – including national championships in 2010 and 2011 – South Carolina’s program saw a boon in recruiting. In 2013 and 2014, the Gamecocks landed the nation’s No. 3 and No. 5 classes, respectively.
Over the last two seasons, though, recruiting has tapered off – with South Carolina dropping out of the top ten nationally. That dip has translated into a decline in on-field performance.
Prior to 2015, South Carolina hadn’t missed the NCAA tournament since 1999 – a sixteen-year run that included four trips to the College World Series final (2002, 2010, 2011 and 2012) and the aforementioned national championships.
The Gamecocks have now missed the postseason twice in three years … which is why Holbrook is “out” and Kingston is “in.”
Kingston was signed to a six-year deal on June 30. He will be paid $600,000 per season – $475,000 in base salary and $125,000 in other compensation. Incentives are included in his contract for divisional, conference or NCAA championships – and for a College World Series berth – potentially adding another $140,000 annually to his deal.
Gamecock fans hope he earns every penny of those bonuses …
For those of you keeping score at home, South Carolina’s arch-rival – Clemson University – landed the nation’s No. 15 recruiting class, according to Baseball America.
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