Illinois State hires Kingston to lead baseball
In his two seasons as an assistant coach at Illinois State, Mark Kingston helped his two previous bosses – Jeff Stewart and Jim Brownlee – enjoy the best seasons of their respective tenures. With the Kingston-era officially starting June 10, it’s now his turn to run the program and see just how far he can take it.Kingston gave the Redbirds an immediate boost after joining the coaching staff as associate head coach last summer, signing one of the most talented fall recruiting classes in recent years. Kingston helped lift Illinois State to its first winning season and first State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament berth under Brownlee, who recently retired after 30 years of coaching – seven at his alma mater, Illinois State.Kingston previously spent one year as an assistant with the Redbirds and helped Stewart put together one of the most impressive seasons in school history. The 1999 Redbirds set a school record for wins in a season (35), runs scored, RBI, doubles, hits and walks, while finishing second in school history in home runs, total bases and batting average.Prior to returning to Illinois State, Kingston spent seven years as recruiting coordinator at Tulane University and served as an assistant on the Miami team that won the 2001 College World Series. He has coached at the collegiate level for 13 years, reaching 500 wins as an assistant in 2009, and was widely respected throughout the sport as one of the top assistants in the nation.Kingston’s eight-man recruiting class, vibrant personality and knowledge of the game have already energized the Illinois State baseball program. These elements, along with the recently renovated stadium at Duffy Bass Field, Illinois State’s rich baseball history and position as a top-level institution, prompted Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt to call Illinois State baseball a “perfect storm” when Kingston was hired last August.“This is a guy that I think would have been a fit at any of the top programs in the country looking for a head coach,” Fitt said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but I think the foundation is there with the facilities improvements. It sounds like the perfect storm really. You can contend for a national title in the Missouri Valley Conference – and Wichita State has proven that. You need to have the right mix of a good coaching staff and quality facilities, and it looks like Illinois State is going down the right road there.”At Tulane, Kingston’s recruiting and coaching efforts helped the Green Wave to six postseason appearances, two NCAA Super Regionals and a berth in the College World Series. The 2005 Green Wave team was seeded as the top-team overall while also receiving the top-academic honor in Omaha. Tulane averaged nearly 42 wins per season with Kingston on staff.Kingston spent two years coaching at Miami (Fla.), where he helped the Hurricanes capture the 2001 College World Series as the No. 1 overall seed. Kingston coached the Redbirds in 1999 after starting his coaching career at Purdue.