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COLUMN: Clemson Baseball Poised for Special Season

Clemson baseball has suffered from varying levels of fan support over the years, a possible result of the drop in success the program has experienced in recent years. In front of a sellout crowd of over 6,000 fans last Saturday, the Clemson Tigers baseball team clinched a series victory against Virginia Tech with a 6-3 win. The very next day, Clemson completed the sweep in front of a much smaller crowd of a little over
Clemson baseball has a history of success. With 12 College World Series
appearances and 15 ACC titles, a lot is expected from Tiger baseball.
Former Head Coach Jack Leggett, who coached the Tigers for 22 years, was a huge part of that success. Near the end of his career, the program began to stagnate. His last ACC title came in 2006 and the Tigers had not hosted an NCAA Regional Tournament since 2011. The last two years of Leggett’s career at Clemson (2014-2015), the Tigers made the NCAA
Tournament but went 0-2 both years.
After that second loss in the Fullerton Regional in 2015, Leggett was fired
as Clemson’s head baseball coach and was replaced by Monte Lee.
Lee came in and had success in his first year at the helm. He brought the
Tigers an ACC title and led them to host a regional. The Tigers were unable to advance out of their own regional and the season came to an abrupt end.
The season was plagued by mediocre pitching and terrible defense and
once the Tigers faced a team with good enough pitching of its own to
quiet their bats, they had no answers.
This year, things are different. Clemson is off to one of its best starts with a 30-6 record. Behind stellar pitching performances from the likes of Charlie Barnes, Alex Eubanks and even midweek starter Tyler Jackson, the Tigers are primed to make a deep run this season.
The defense, though still shaky at times, is much improved from this time
last season with 42 errors through 36 games versus 51 last year.
The offense also seems to have picked up where they left off before losing to Oklahoma State twice in the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Tigers, with a team batting average of .283, are scoring over seven
runs a game on average. A total of four players on the roster have an average above .300 (Seth Beer is actually not one of them) and several more are on the edge of that number. The recent emergence of players
like Logan Davidson and Reed Rohlman will only help the Tigers continue to improve offensively.
The Tigers have also improved their ability to play small ball this year, going 37-49 on sac-bunt attempts, while not compromising on their power hitting. As a team, the Tigers have 69 doubles, two triples and 38 homeruns; they are doing this against some of the top pitchers in the ACC and the country.
It’s time for Clemson baseball fans to start paying attention again. With
all the hype surrounding Clemson football, it seems easy for other sports to fall by the wayside, but Lee and his team are poised to do something special this season.
With over 20 regular season games left, there are a lot of unpredictable factors left in play. The Tigers’ toughest conference test still awaits them in the form of Louisville, but if Clemson can continue playing the way they have through the first two months of the season, they will be in prime
condition to make a run in the postseason.

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