The South Carolina baseball team had a chance to showcase its highly-touted 2017 recruiting class with two free scrimmages at Founders Park on Friday and Saturday.
The class was ranked No. 5 in the nation by Baseball America on Sept. 12, trailing only Vanderbilt, Florida, Arkansas and Arizona State with the fourth-highest ranking by Baseball America in the SEC.
According to GamecocksOnline, this is the eighth straight season the Gamecocks' recruiting class has been ranked by Baseball America, including four top-10 rankings in that span.
Eighteen new players joined the Gamecocks this fall to play under first-year head coach Mark Kingston, who was hired on June 30 after three years as the head coach at South Florida. While in Tampa, Kingston and the Bulls made two NCAA Regional appearances and were 100-78-1 overall.
The Gamecocks opened their fall practice schedule Thursday, and Kingston said he was eager to help players fine tune their skills.
“To this point, I'm very pleased with what I’ve seen from a talent standpoint,” Kingston said. “Now, it’s a matter of getting them on the field, starting to teach them how we want to do bunt defense, how we do cuts and relays, how we go about preparing for a game offensively. Just a lot of great things.”
Kingston said he had an introductory meeting with his players on Wednesday, discussing their approach for the season and plan for action. He said the biggest thing he’s noticed from his players is their anxiousness to get better.
“They’ve asked good questions,” Kingston said. “When we’ve asked them do something, they’ve gone overboard trying to do it, so I’ve been very pleased with their approach and their desire to try to learn and to understand we all want to take that next step.”
According to GamecockCentral.com, 10 newcomers played in Friday’s scrimmage, including pitchers Carmen Mlodzinski, Eddy Demurias, Hunter Lomas and Corey Stone. Each freshman pitcher threw two innings and combined to allow zero runs. Mlodzinski and Demurias put on solid performances, allowing just one hit and striking out one batter each.
This is Kingston’s third time taking over a collegiate baseball program as a new head coach, giving him experience figuring out how new players will fit into the equation during the season.
As for which players Kingston is excited about, he listed Noah Campbell, Kyle Jacobson, Ridge Chapman, Mlodzinski and Stone off the top of his head.
“There definitely is some good young talent in that class,” Kingston said. “What we need to figure out now are which of these guys are ready to help us right away. To me, that’s the biggest factor. They’re talented. Are they ready to help you win ball games at this level?”
Kingston added, “We need to figure out what is at a level that can help us have the success we want to have and what areas need improvement ... At this point in the process, there’s a lot for me as the head coach and our staff to figure out what needs to be improved, what is solid.”
2017-18 Gamecock baseball newcomers:
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./Boiling Springs HS)
Cam Tringali (Columbia, S.C./Cardinal Newman HS)