South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston looks at the series with the biggest microscope on his team as a litmus test for what his developing group can handle.
After showing a potent offense during six consecutive wins, the Gamecocks suffered back-to-back losses on Sunday to Charleston Southern and Tuesday to Furman with meek hitting numbers. USC managed just four hits on Sunday, and on Tuesday the Gamecocks loaded the bases in the opening inning, but could only score once.
South Carolina is hitting just .277 as a team, and those with experience against Clemson don’t have strong hitting numbers. Third baseman Jonah Bride has five career hits vs. Clemson along with the only home run, but has a batting average of just .192 against the Tigers. Center fielder TJ Hopkins is 4-for-12 in his career against Clemson, but starting shortstop Madison Stokes has been limited to just one hit against the Tigers in his three previous seasons.
Stokes was a question mark for the Gamecocks coming into the week because of a hamstring injury, but he homered as the designated hitter for USC on Tuesday against the Paladins. Kingston says he’s unsure if Stokes will play the field, but ensured he would “be right in the thick of things” during the series.
The Head Coach said he plans to stick with Adam Hill to face Clemson’s Jacob Hennessy on the mound Friday, with Cody Morris opposing the Tigers’ Brooks Crawford on Saturday in Greenville. Kingston has not named a Sunday starter, choosing to evaluate his bullpen use in the opening two games, but said Ridge or Logan Chapman would get consideration along with freshman southpaw John Gilreath.
To hear Kingston’s full comments from his Thursday press conference, click below: