Shortstop Madison Stokes up to bat at Founders Park on USC’s opening day, which was also Coach Mark Kingston’s debut. Stokes was 5-for-9 on the weekend with every hit going for extra bases.

USC fans came out to Founders Park to cheer on the Gamecocks and witness Coach Mark Kingston’s first game. Kingston previously coached at the University of South Florida.

Senior student Marion McCurry said he is ready for this new era in USC baseball with Mark Kingston as head coach.

Opening day was not the only thing happening for the South Carolina Gamecocks last Friday. The Gamecocks welcomed Mark Kingston into Founders Park for his first baseball game as head coach.

Kitty White, a longtime Gamecock baseball fan, was excited about the start of baseball season.

“I love all of the sports here at USC, but baseball holds a special place in my heart,” White said. “I really just love the game and the way it’s played. I love the atmosphere. I love the way the fans respond and get involved. It’s just a great place to be.” 

“I’m happy for a new era in baseball. Change is inevitable, and change is good, and I think Coach Kingston is going to bring energy and spark and great knowledge, and I love the analytics that he is bringing to the game too.”

Marion McCurry, a senior at the university who has been coming to USC games for most of his life, is also excited about the change. McCurry thinks Coach Kingston may be just what the Gamecocks need.

“I think he has a lot of energy. I know a lot of players talk about how excited he is to come out here and play this first game, so I think just like a new voice in the dugout and having people be excited to play baseball again is going to make a big difference,” McCurry said.

Prior to coming to South Carolina, Kingston coached at University of South Florida. He has a 253-180-1 record and three NCAA regional appearances during eight seasons as a head coach; three of those were spent at USF. Prior to coaching at USF in 2015, he also coached five seasons at Illinois State and won the Missouri Valley coach of the year award twice.

In the season opener, the Gamecocks fell short to Virginia Military Institute 6-7. However, the Gamecocks beat VMI Saturday 7-2, and Sunday 9-2. The Gamecocks won the series opening weekend helping make fans, along with the team, excited for this new era in South Carolina baseball.