COLUMBIA – The people don’t change, but South Carolina’s coaching staff will look a little different this off-season and next year.
Mark Kingston announced officially Tuesday some changes to his coaching staff entering his third season, with Trip Couch moving into the full-time assistant role, Mike Current moving to an off-the-field position and Stuart Lake becoming the team’s full-time hitting coach.
“I think that will optimize everyone’s talents and get this program to as good as it can possibly be,” Kingston said.
The shuffling essentially means Couch and Current are trading responsibilities with Current becoming the team’s new director of player development, a spot Couch has served in the previous two seasons.
Now, Couch will be able to be on the road recruiting and evaluating talent, something he’s done at previous stops at Houston and with the Arizona Diamondbacks for nine years before getting back into college baseball.
In his previous role, Couch was able to do on-campus recruiting if a prospect was visiting Founders Park but wasn’t able to be on the road looking at talent. In his new role, he will be able to do just that.
“Trip Couch is one of the highest regarded talent evaluators in the country and has been for a long time at both the college and professional level,” Kingston said. “I think that puts him in a perfect role for him.”
For Current, two hectic years on the road come to an end. He was the team’s recruiting coordinator and hitting coach the last two seasons, splitting time between Columbia and being on the road recruiting.
He’d miss games at times scouting players on the recruiting trail but is now settling into an off-the-field role. In it, he’ll be an adviser helping Kingston and the rest of the staff while helping to create scouting reports and handle analytics for the staff.
“Mike Current does a really good job on the recruiting trail for us but with me, he’s always close to me in terms of the inner workings of the program,” Kingston said. “And he’s not been able to do that for the last two years. I think that’s where he really helps me the most. He also has a second child on the way, so I think it’s a win-win from that standpoint. He’s always been really good in that role for me, just helping with the inner workings of the program.”
Lake takes over now as the team’s full-time hitting coach, being promoted from assistant hitting coach under Current, who couldn’t be there for every practice or game to coach hitters.
Lake will be able to have full control of the team’s hitters, sliding back into a role he’s grown comfortable with at previous stops at Ole Miss and The Citadel.
“He’ll be able to be in the trenches with those guys every second. Stu has been the assistant hitting coach, but at times it hasn’t been his baby. He’ll have full ownership of that offense. Obviously I’ll still be heavily involved because that’s a passion of mine,” Kingston said.
“I think him being in the trenches with them for every swing in the cages and every swing on the field. He’s the voice of that group and will never miss,” Kingston said. “He will be there every second; I think that will be a major part of it. I think he’s an old-school guy that will bring an attitude to that group we’re looking for. He’s proven, he’s coached a ton of great offenses over the year and will do a great job.”
The Gamecocks are coming off a disappointing year where they finished 28-28 and 8-22 in the SEC, winning one of their 10 series.
The reorganizing of the of the staff is something Kingston wanted to do, he said, so everyone was playing to their strengths to try and get things back on track.
“This is a much more seamless way to have everybody doing their strengths and making sure nothing’s missed,” Kingston said. “I’m really excited about these guys maximizing what they do in this program and these roles.”