South Carolina head baseball coach Mark Kingston held his summer press conference on Wednesday afternoon at Founders Park, touching upon his team's season and a lengthy postseason run that had the Gamecocks cut just one win short of advancing to the College World Series in Kingston's first year at the helm.
The Gamecocks, who closed their season with a record of 37-26 (17-13 SEC), fell to Arkansas June 11 in the third game of the Fayetteville Super Regional.
Not only did the Gamecocks exceed expectations in Kingston's first year at USC with a post-season run that included a sweep of the Greenville Regional, but they also set a school record for total draft picks with 10 players taken in the MLB Draft.
“We’re now in the summer phase at the conclusion of this season," Kingston said. "In terms of knowing we maximized that team and saw a lot of great things ... coming within one game of Omaha was something that I think very few people predicted when the season started. Setting a school record for draft picks was something very few people saw coming. So, I just think all in all it was a very successful season and one we want to build on now.”
With a plethora of Gamecocks selected by MLB teams in this year's draft, Kingston acknowledged that the student-athletes who want to take their game to the professional level have to make themselves known on and off the field.
“They have to have an approach to be overachievers," Kingston said. "Pro ball is a jungle ... To me, I try to pass along that you need to be very professional. You need to understand that this is now a job and you will be evaluated daily. Everything they do needs to be done at the highest level.”
As the Gamecocks progressed through the season, the team went through many eventful matchups, garnering national attention for pulling off upsets and unexpected combacks.
Kingston emphasized the importance of not only the players, but also the Gamecock baseball fanbase in propellng the team's big moments throughout the spring.
"When you come back from down six nothing," Kingston said. "And you win a game, to me that sends a very strong message of what our program is and what we want the culture to be."
He credited fan's passion and the media for making South Carolina baseball a "big-time" endeavor in his first year at the helm of the team.
“I love being here, Kingston said. "I’m proud to be here, and myself and our staff will continue to work extremely hard to make this a program that everybody can be proud of."
While the team's 2019 schedule has not been finalized, Kingston reassured the media that South Carolina will face the North Carolina Tar Heels at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte as part of the team's slate of neutral-site matchups in the coming year.
"We have not added anything new in terms of we’re status quo on the schedule," Kingston said.