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Embracing the underdog role: Clemson baseball looking to prove doubters wrong this season

Ashley Stout, Asst. Photo Editor
Junior infielder Weston Wilson (8) prepares for a game. 

“I think our guys understand my expectations when it comes to execution, but that’s something you have to build over time.” Monte Lee,  the new Clemson Tigers baseball head coach, provided this quote in a recent interview, making it clear that this upcoming season is going to feature a rebuilding of sorts for the Tigers. 

The talent is there, but the culture change will be an arduous and difficult one. 

For the first time in over 20 years, Clemson is set to take the field without the services of former Head Coach Jack Leggett.

Boasting an impressive tenure as the former head coach of the Charleston Cougars, Lee arrived on scene with high expectations looming over him. Ultimately, patience will be a key factor in determining his success here at Clemson. 

The Tigers were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division in a preseason coaches’ poll, which would be the team’s worst regular season outcome since 1993, when legendary coach Bill Wilhelm was still (no pun intended) at the helm. 

Following a disappointing exit in the regionals of last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Tigers will be hard-pressed to make it even that far this season. Given the departure of four starting pitchers from last season’s rotation, one of the few consistent bright spots for the 2015 team, the predicted lack of success for the Tigers in 2016 is understandable.

However, All-American catcher Chris Okey is back in the fold and will lead the offense this season. Lee will also look to improve the batting skills of his team to be on par with what his College of Charleston teams frequently displayed under his leadership. 

The Atlantic Coast Conference is stacked with great teams this year, making it all the more difficult for Lee to create a winning culture in his debut season

at Clemson. 

That being said, the Tigers definitely have a winning pedigree and the batting talent to catalyze it, so they could shock the nation. A June trip to Omaha seems a remote possibility for the Clemson Tigers at present, but, under

the leadership of Lee, it is not out of question by any means.  

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