TOP 25 SCHEDULE
(1) Clemson at College of Charleston, at/vs. (9) South Carolina
TOP 25 TOURNAMENTS
Rainbow Baseball Tournament, Honolulu, Hawaii
Dairy Queen Classic, Minneapolis, Minn.
A lot of signs point to 11-1 Texas A&M slipping into Gainesville and sneaking out with a pair of wins. No. 5 Florida
But we don’t like that analysis. Texas A&M’s
Any time a team from the Northeast Conference can win a series at the home of a Conference USA member, consider it an upset. So Monmouth (0-3) is the pick at Central Florida
IN THE DUGOUT
Had you ever been to Texas before you transferred to Rice from UC Irvine before the 2003-2004 season?
You played with first-round picks
What do you do in your free time?
What will you do with those degrees?
There’s a lot of familiarity for Jack Leggett this year.
Clemson Tigers are ranked No. 1, a spot in which they spent seven weeks
during the 2002 season–the last time they advanced to the College
World Series. The batting order features eight of the same names it did
a year ago, when Clemson went 43-23 and fell one game shy of the CWS,
and most of the pitching staff returns as well.
also that other constant for Leggett: South Carolina. Clemson faces its
in-state rival this weekend, with a road game Saturday and a home game
A Friday night game at College of Charleston comes
first for Clemson, but it’s apparent how much the next two games mean,
as Leggett plans on holding all three of his weekend starters back for
the two games against the Gamecocks and going with a midweek arm in
There’s no middle ground in the Clemson-South
Carolina rivalry, and unlike a lot of others in college sports where
the fans are more into the antics than those actually participating,
the tension between the coaching staffs and players in this series is
“Oh yeah, there’s no doubt about that,” Leggett
said. “It’s a big game for everybody. It’s definitely a rivalry, you
can sugarcoat it any way you want, but it’s a game that’s important to
everybody. You just want to play well.
“There’s a lot of
fanfare about it. I’m not sure there’s a bigger in-state rivalry
around. You’d have to show me one. I know there’s some others than
claim to be, but when you sell out both places and people can’t get
tickets . . .”
This weekend’s series is important enough
that Leggett doesn’t hesitate when asked if two of his recent injury
holdouts will return to the lineup. Sophomore second baseman Taylor
Harbin, limited to one at-bat because of a balky hamstring, and
sophomore righthander David Kopp, who has been resting a sore shoulder,
both will take the field this weekend.
could prove most important. He’s Clemson’s top righthanded hitter, and
was the only righty among the first six batters in the Tigers’ Opening
Day lineup. And that could prove important against a South Carolina
team will start lefties Arik Hempy (0-1, 0.00) and Forest Beverly (3-0,
Clemson’s two lowest offensive outputs of the season
have come against lefties: a 3-0 win against James Madison and starter
Greg Nesbitt, and a 3-2 loss to Mercer and Shawn Barrett. The Tigers
did tag Mercer lefty Hunter Abercrombie for eight runs and 10 hits in a
9-4 win, so the left-leaning lineup isn’t completely neutralized by the
“We’ve got to beat righthanded and lefthanded
pitchers to win,” Leggett said. “Everybody’s got good pitchers on each
side. Our kids can hit lefthanded pitching pretty good. We ran into a
really good kid and Mercer team, but that second lefthander we knocked
around pretty good. Left or right, it doesn’t make so much difference.
He’s got to be a pretty good lefty to get at us.
coming back gives us one more good righthanded hitter against lefties,
and before it’s all over we’ll be better against them.”
mostly nitpicking to point out other flaws in Leggett’s team at this
point. By his estimation, the club has played very well in 53 of its 54
innings this year–a throwing error that sparked a three-run Mercer
rally in the club’s only loss serving as the one ugly inning.
with that blip, the pitching staff has allowed 10 runs all year, five
of which were unearned. “I just feel good about everybody who’s gone
out there to pitch,” Leggett said. And junior righthanders Jason Berken
and Stephen Faris–the starters against South Carolina–haven’t allowed
any runs in more than 20 combined innings.
Those are reasons
for the one unfamiliar thing Leggett has to do deal with: Clemson’s
record. The Tigers are off to a 5-1 start, much better than the 9-10
and 6-8 beginnings to the last two seasons. Clemson lost both games of
its early home-and-home series with South Carolina both of those years
before rallying to grab the two midweek games that fall later in the
Then again, the results don’t have as much effect on the coach as one might think.
ask me, ‘How do you sleep?’ I don’t sleep,” he said. “If we lose, I
can’t get away from what could have been different. What could we have
done better? If we win, I can’t wait to get to ballpark to play again.
I’m ready to go at 2 in the morning. You get greedy.
“I’d rather battle that than losing and getting no sleep.”