South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston watched intently as the Washington Nationals won the World Series in a dramatic seven-game series over the Houston Astros.
Kingston even found a way to use the historic World Series as a teaching tool for his team, which just wrapped up the fall season.
Kingston has a mantra he calls HWA — How To Win Awareness. During the World Series, he asked his players to text him when he saw a player make a smart play, executing a play that might not show up in the box score but that has an impact on the outcome of the game.
Infielder Jeff Heinrich texted Kingston when he saw Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon gun down a runner at second in a 3-2 game. Rendon had a play at first and second but smartly chose to cut down the lead runner in a one-run game.
“I think the World Series was great for our team to just continue to learn the game and figure out, sometimes it’s not always the box-score statistics that help you win games, [sometimes] it’s tagging up when you are supposed to be tagging up,” Kingston said. “I love the World Series and I love that it can be a teaching tool for our players and I hope the nation appreciated what great baseball that was.”
Kingston also loved seeing the celebration after Washington won the franchise’s first world championship. It added fuel to the hunger Kingston and his team have for getting back to the NCAA Tournament after missing the postseason last year and for leading the Gamecocks back to the College World Series for the first time since 2012.
“We have that hunger, you don’t have to worry about that, our fans don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “Every day we wake up it’s about trying to get back to Omaha. I don’t know that we needed any more help in that department, but it just really gets the juices flowing.
“It frustrates you in a way because you still have to go through November and December and January before we can get back on the field and make it right again. You love it. It’s motivating. Not that we need it, but if you have a passion for the game and a passion for trying to be the best, watching those teams celebrate and do everything they did on the field afterward, that’s what it’s all about. We want to see our guys be able to do that.”
Kingston, who met with the media Thursday as South Carolina wrapped up the fall season, was pleased with the progress of his team during the fall season. The Gamecocks, which have 17 new players, beat Georgia Tech 10-6 in a scrimmage on Oct. 20 and then wrapped up the season with seven home runs in its final intra-squad game.
“I thought we had a really productive fall. I’m happy with where we are right now,” he said. “We played two really good programs in NC State and Georgia Tech to get a good feel for where we are. We have a lot of building blocks. I like where we are.”