Gamecocks select Paul Mainieri as next head baseball coach

Posted 6/19/24

The University of South Carolina announced its new head baseball coach, Paul Mainieri, last Thursday. Mainieri is the 31st head baseball coach in South Carolina’s history.

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Gamecocks select Paul Mainieri as next head baseball coach


The University of South Carolina announced its new head baseball coach, Paul Mainieri, last Thursday. Mainieri is the 31st head baseball coach in South Carolina’s history.

Mainieri’s last coaching job was at LSU, where he had to retire due to a neck injury. He won the College World Series with the Tigers in 2009 and was the runner-up in 2017. He is also now the winningest active head baseball coach in the NCAA with 1,505 victories.

Mainieri said that this will be his last coaching job before retiring, and thus is not planning for a long rebuild.

“I don’t have a three-year plan. I don’t have a five-year plan. I have a one-year plan,” Mainieri said. “I don’t see why we can’t compete for everything right out of the gate. I didn’t come here to lose.”

Mainieri is replacing former head baseball coach Mark Kingston, who led the Gamecocks to a 37-25 (13-17 SEC) record in 2024, which ended at the NCAA Regional Tournament in Raleigh, N.C.

South Carolina is Mainieri’s fifth head coaching job. He was the LSU head coach from 2007-2021. Previously, he coached at Notre Dame, Air Force and St. Thomas University. 

Mainieri said that he knows how to handle the high expectations from the fans, as he had similar expectations at LSU. 

“In the sport of baseball, it’s impossible to win every game,” Mainieri said. “Nobody’s gonna go 56-0, we’re going to get our nose bloodied here and there, but you got to just stay the course.”

Mainieri’s coaching staff will feature a familiar face, as well as two additions. Monte Lee is returning as the associate head coach and hitting coach. Terry Rooney will join as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. John Hendry will join as the assistant coach.

With his 39 years of previous coaching experience, Mainieri has not always had the technology to see advanced stats on how his team and players are performing. Despite this, Mainieri said that he is going to approach his coaching with a feel for both advanced analytics and old-fashioned methods.

“It’s crazy to not use what technology can give you and the advances that we have in the game, but I’m not going to totally depend on it,” Mainieri said. “I’m going to see what I see and I’m going to believe what I see.”

Rooney said that he uses many different pitching metrics to help with developing his pitching staff. 

“It’s how the body moves, it’s what the ball does, and then I kind of call it the art of pitching,” Rooney said. “But I feel very confident with the staff that we have, the success that we’ve had [and] the resources we have here at Carolina.”

It is not solely about developing the team as players, but also as professionals.

Rooney said that he will work with the pitching staff to establish their own daily routines to better help them achieve their playing goals.

“I want their aspirations to play professional baseball pitching in the major leagues,” Rooney said. “One of the greatest keys to that is having a consistent daily routine, and I think that’s important and we need to establish what that is with each player.”

Current South Carolina Athletic Director and former head baseball coach Ray Tanner said coaching against Mainieri was one of the more difficult managers to play against. He said that  Mainieri’s game-managing abilities were like his own.

“[When I was coaching], I always felt that [game management] was one of my strengths,” Tanner said. “And he was that guy that was tough to outthink, outsmart. You know, I’d see him across the way and his wheels are spinning.”

Mainieri’s hiring comes at the same time as the hiring of new softball coach Ashley Chastain. It is uncommon for a school to fire both their baseball and softball head coaches after they both made NCAA Regional appearances.

Tanner said that his decision came down to timing and the university’s administration.

“[The university’s administration] wants us to win at a high level, regardless of the sport,”  Tanner said. “I constantly have dialogue, communication, and they’ve been tremendously  supportive of what we need.”

His first season back as a head coach will coincide with the SEC expanding to fit both the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners in the conference.

Tanner said that he expects Mainieri to approach this added competition “very aggressively.”

“He wants to win now,” Tanner said. “He’s going to do his very best to put a team on the field that can do that. It’s challenging in this league. He’s done it before and I expect he’ll do it again.”

Gamecock baseball, Paul Mainieri, Ray Tanner, LSU baseball, Mark Kingston, College World Series


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