There is no doubt Clemson feels like a baseball team that is getting a second chance.
Despite losing 12 of their 18 games to close the regular season and ACC Tournament, the Tigers were still awarded as a regional host, and in doing so probably the shot in the arm they needed to try and advance out of the regional.
“We are very excited to be here,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said on Thursday. “We had a great week. The guys have been working very hard in preparation for this regional. We’ve had great practices, and everybody is in good spirits. We’ve worked on a number of things and now it’s go time.”
Clemson (39-19) will go on Friday when it host UNC Greensboro at 7 p.m. in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional.
“More than anything else we have to draw on our strength,” Lee said. “When we’re successful, we do well as a team? I think our guys will attest to that. It’s been pretty relaxed, but also a big sense of urgency every day to get better.”
The Tigers’ all-American outfielder, Seth Beer, senses a level of excitement in the clubhouse that has the team relaxed and focused on the weekend and the task at hand.
“I think one of the reasons athletes are drawn to this sport is just the amount of failure and when you succeed it just means that much more,” Beer said. “Obviously the stakes are higher, the risks are higher. You-lose-you-go-home kind of thing and I think that contributes to almost the amount of emotion shown throughout the playoffs.
“It’s a part of baseball at every level and I think that’s where the excitement comes and I think that’s where the fans really get involved and they really enjoy it because they know what the stakes are.”
For Clemson this weekend is all about starting over and forgetting about the last half of the season, having fun and playing baseball.
“As a player toward the end of the year you’re kind of getting to that point where your body is starting to feel it,” Beer said. “It’s almost like it’s a brand new start. You’re running on fumes yet there is something driving you. You don’t exactly know what it is but something is there. Something is pushing you hard every pitch, every at-bat, every time you get on the field and that’s what makes the post season so special.”