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Clemson baseball off to scorching start

Matt Mynes, Contributor

Clemson pitcher Alex Edmondson (41) throws on the mound against South Carolina in Doug Kingsmore Stadium on March 6, 2022. 

After a disappointing 2021 season, Clemson baseball has bounced back in dominant fashion to start the 2022 campaign, having its best start to a season since 2002. 

Ranked No. 19 by Division I Baseball, the Tigers are (11-0) on the season, completing three-game series sweeps over Indiana and rival South Carolina. 

The team’s record marks the best start for Clemson through the first 11 games of the season since the 2002 season when Clemson started (13-0).  

The perfect start for Clemson this season has been the result of a total team effort. The offense has scored 108 runs this season, tied for 20th with UTSA in Division I. As a team, the Tigers are batting .309, good for 35th in the nation. 

The defensive play has also been impressive for Clemson. The Tigers hold a team earned run average (ERA) of 2.34 and a fielding percentage of .986, ranking 15th and 19th in Division I, respectively.  

Apart from Clemson’s play on the field, the mindset of this year’s team has helped the Tigers get off to a hot start. 

“They have done just an amazing job of putting the team first,” said Clemson head coach Monte Lee following the sweep over South Carolina.   

“If you’re not having a good game offensively, still be a great teammate,” Lee continued. “Don’t be a front runner. Don’t be a guy that’s only positive when things are going well for you and that’s been the biggest thing that I’ve seen with this team versus maybe last year.”

That mindset of putting the team first seems to be an early, persistent theme for this year’s unit  and has translated well onto the field. 

Through the first 11 games, Clemson has displayed the ability to overpower teams with its pitching. In 16 innings pitched, Clemson ace pitcher Mack Anglin, has given up three hits and two runs while striking out 23 batters.  

Meanwhile, Clemson’s offense has showed its scoring potential. A 19-4 win over Indiana, 28-3 beatdown over Hartford and a 10-2 victory over South Carolina demonstrated how dangerous Clemson can be this season.  

Aside from its dominant victories, Clemson has also showcased the ability to win close games, sometimes requiring a late comeback. 

In a 3-2 victory over South Carolina on March 4, Clemson took the lead in the eighth inning. Furthermore, the Tigers secured an 8-5 victory over USC Upstate after Clemson got the go-ahead run in the eighth. 

Individually, designated hitter Cooper Ingle has been the team’s top hitter this season. In his 11 games started, Ingle is batting .463 with one home run and 14 runs brought in (RBI).   

“I truly believe Cooper Ingle is one of the best hitters in the country,” Lee said.  

Infielder Bryar Hawkins is also off to an impressive start. He is batting .357 with three home runs and a team-leading 16 RBIs. He has also started all 11 games.  

Hawkins’ play in the South Carolina series earned him the MVP award for the series. In the three games, Hawkins finished with a team-high five hits, one of which was a single in the ninth inning of the 3-2 victory on March 4.  

“Our guys respect Bryar Hawkins,” Lee said. “To see him win the MVP this weekend in this series, just a really cool moment for him so you know I’m super proud of and happy for him.”  

Outside of Anglin, sophomore pitcher Nick Hoffmann has provided quality pitching for the Tigers. He holds a 2-0 record across 13 innings pitched with a 2.77 ERA.  

After the starting rotation, the Clemson bullpen has been a key factor in 2022. With a combined record of (7-0), the bullpen unit has kept opposing offenses in check. 

Looking ahead for Clemson, the schedule will get quite challenging as the season progresses.  

The Tigers are set to play series against five currently ranked opponents, including No. 8 Florida State and No. 9 Notre Dame.  

“We want to be challenged,” Lee said when speaking on the upcoming schedule. “We want our kids to be challenged. We want them to be able to perform under pressure in high leverage situations so when you’re playing quality opponents. . .we’re finding ways to win those games.” 

Clemson possesses a talented, deep roster that is certainly up for the challenge, and with their best start since 2002, the Tigers are ready to go out and compete for a national championship.  

Statistics and team records are accurate as of March 7, 2022. 

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