By Trey McCurry.
Junior Will Lamb recently sat down with TheClemsonInsider to discuss last season, his versatility for the Tigers, and what he is looking forward to in the 2011 season.
Last season, the lefty played first base and pitched for the Tigers. In 52 appearances (42 starts at both first base and designated hitter), Lamb hit .289 with six doubles, two triples, and four homers along with 23 walks and a perfect 14-14 on stolen bases. On the mound, he was 4-4 with two saves in 18 appearances (10 starts). In 52.0 innings pitched, he had a 5.02 ERA.
When looking back on last season, Lamb said the season was pretty fun. “It was time consuming playing first base and pitching. I had to get away from the pitching side when Richie got hurt, but other than that it was fun. We had a very resilient season.”
“It was basically a three part season. We started out 17-2, then went 8-13 (which was a pretty bad stretch), then got back on top of things heading to the ACC Tournament. We had a big win coming out of Greensboro over #6 Georgia Tech. We carried the momentum to Auburn, came home and beat Alabama, and then on to Omaha. You can’t be too upset over what happened last year, but I just wish we could have won the national championship.”
When looking back on that last stretch of the season, the then-sophomore played a pretty important role in two key games. Against Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament, Lamb (who hadn’t pitched in almost three weeks) started and pitched 6.1 strong innings allowing only six hits and two runs. “It was actually pretty weird starting because I didn’t think I would get the start since it had been awhile. My last start had been against them in Atlanta and they had lit me up pretty hard. We were playing for our pride then, so I just went out there and threw strikes.”
Another key moment for Lamb was coming in to get the final out against Alabama in the Super Regionals. “I’m not going to lie, it was the highlight of my life. Coming in to face their best hitter and get the last out was one of the coolest experiences in my life. It was just so many emotions – bliss, joy, excitement. All eyes were on me and I knew I wanted the ball and that I was going to get him out.”
Omaha was also quite the experience for Lamb and his teammates. “It was just so unique knowing you were playing in the last College World Series in Rosenblatt. Every team knew that had the right to be there and we knew we had a legitimate shot to win it. It was just a matter of going out there and having fun. We had reached Omaha and it was all about going out there and being able to play with our friends for one more last time.”
After Omaha, Lamb returned home to Virginia and had his wisdom teeth out before starting his summer ball season with the Peninsula Pilots of the Coastal Plain League. “I played in 16 games for the Pilots, who I also played for last summer, and it was fun and the guys were great. They were struggling at the time I joined, but we played really well as a team and won the division in the second half. We had the mindset of just going out there and having fun.”
Coming back to Clemson, Lamb is looking forward to the 2011 season. “We had a running joke coming back that I have played every position a lefty can play, so one day during workouts I asked Coach Leggett if he had a left-handed catcher’s mitt and I would try that out. But realistically, I think I will be in either center- or right-field as well as doing some starting pitching. I really enjoy being in the outfield. Not only do you have the speed aspect of it, but it keeps my arm in shape and makes for an easy transition to pitching.”
Lamb is already looking forward to working with newly hired coach Bradley LeCroy. “He is very enthusiastic and a great guy to be around. He lightens the mood and is the life of the party. Whenever you are around him, you just feel better about yourself. He has taught us so much already with some new drills such as hitting soccer balls, weighted balls, and just staying on balls. It’s just little things with our swings and he has really already helped us so far getting back into the swing of things.”
As for as expectations for 2011, Lamb thinks the Tigers will be find and is interested to see how things pan out with who replaces key players such as Kyle Parker, Casey Harman, Wilson Boyd, and Mike Freeman. “This year is going to be a great team year. We lost KP, who hit 20 homers, and then probably the best infielder I’ve played with in my life in Mike Freeman as well as another huge leader in Wilson Boyd.”
“We return most of our pitching, so the biggest thing is seeing how everything pans out with who is playing where in the field. As for me, I just go out and try to have fun with. I try to keep it as much fun as possible and not as a job. Once it gets to be a job, you question why you want to be there and the passion isn’t there. The passion is still there for me. I want to go out there and have fun, laugh a lot, use my speed to my advantage, throw hard, and can’t do anything wrong with that.”
With fall practice just underway, Lamb and the rest of the 2011 Clemson Tigers are already working hard to make this coming season just as special as 2010.