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Lee, Tigers are ready for season-opener

As he heads into this afternoon’s season opener against Wright State, Clemson head baseball coach Monte Lee feels he has done everything he can do to prepare his Tigers for the 2017 baseball season.

The 10th-ranked Tigers will begin the season at 4 p.m. in Game 1 of a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.

“We have been blessed with such good weather so we have been able to get outside a lot and have been able to play an awful lot,” Lee said. “Most of our position players have fifty-plus at-bats since we came back in January so we have been able to play a good bit and we have been able to get a lot of high quality work in.

“I have been proud of the work ethic of the players. I feel like we are ready. I feel like we are ready for (today).”

Lee is the one who is worried more about Opening Day than the players. He says they are tired of playing against each other, and they are ready to see a different uniform.

“Opening Day is a lot of fun, but the big message from me, and as hard as it is because the juices get flowing and all of the adrenaline, the excitement and that crowd for opening day, they have to stay as calm and as relaxed as they possibly can so they can play at their best,” Lee said.

The excitement for the new season and the big crowd at Doug Kingsmore caught up with the Tigers last year as they lost their season-opener, Lee’s first as Clemson’s head coach, to Maine. In fact, Clemson has lost four of its last five season openers, including three straight.

The last season-opening win for the Tigers came in 2013, a 2-0 win over William & Mary.

Charlie Barnes will get the start for Clemson in Game 1 as he will try to get the Tigers off to a good start. It will not be an easy task considering he will have a different catcher than the one he has been primarily working with during the fall and preseason.

Chris Williams, who was set to replace All-American Chris Okey, injured his wrist last Sunday during a team scrimmage which required surgery. He is expected to miss the next four to six weeks. With Williams out, junior Robert Jolly or freshman Kyle Wilkie will get the start. Lee says he will more than likely throw both catchers over the weekend.

“This is like your starting quarterback being hurt, and all of sudden you have to put the next guy in,” Lee said. “This is a big position, a tough position. It is one where we are going to be patient. We are going to be patient with these two young men and try again to put them in position to be successful.”

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