Clemson head coach Jack Leggett met with the media before Tuesday’s practice as the Tigers prepare to face in-state rival South Carolina in a series starting Friday in Charleston.
Richie Shaffer injured his groin late in Sunday’s game. Coach Leggett is unsure if Richie will be ready to go this weekend.
“Right now, he’s probably 50/50, maybe a little less than that. We have a long way to go to get him where he needs to be. If he’s not 100 percent, then we’ll make an adjustment. We’ll probably move Jay Baum over to third base and hope he steps up if Richie can’t go,” said Leggett.
The first game of the series will be played at 6 PM Friday night in Charleston. On Saturday the series moves to Columbia and the final game is Sunday at Doug Kingsmore.
“It’s a challenge for both teams. It’s challenging to play in three different venues. It involves a lot of traveling and a lot of planning, but we’re excited. Charleston is going to be a great venue to play at. Then, we’ll play on Saturday in Columbia on our way back to Clemson, where we’re looking forward to playing on Sunday,” said Leggett.
How does playing in three locations impact the rivalry?
“This format makes it more intense. It’s a three-game series, which gives it more focus. We have to play these three games and then get back to our business in both of our conferences. It’s a big weekend for us and we’re looking forward to it. We’re excited about it,” replied Leggett.
South Carolina will bring one of the nation’s best pitching staffs to the series.
“Their pitching has been very good so far; better than good. Their first three guys are experienced; they’ve been out there before. They know how to pitch and it’s going to be a big challenge for our hitters. We have to score some runs. I think our pitching is going to do a pretty great job. I’m excited about our guys going out there as well. We’re going to have to find ways to turn the game in our favor. It’s going to be an exciting weekend,” said Leggett.
The Tigers will likely face Michael Roth in the opener Friday night.
“He throws strikes, so being patient doesn’t always work. He competes and doesn’t throw the same pitch twice. Our guys have to be on their game and really focus and concentrate when he’s on the mound. If he makes a mistake, we have to take advantage. It’s going to be a good challenge for us,” said Shaffer.
How has South Carolina’s success the past two years impacted the rivalry?
“They’ve had a couple of great years and we have to credit them for that, but the rivalry’s always been there. Both teams have been playing well for a long period of time. The fact that both schools have really great programs is what keeps this rivalry alive. The strong ties between fans on both sides also keep this rivalry together,” replied Leggett.
Sophomore Steve Wilkerson had a huge weekend for the Tigers and has solidified the starting spot at second.
“I don’t think it’s an ongoing battle (at second base) anymore. I liked the way Steve Wilkerson played last weekend. I look for him to be our guy there right now. He had a really good game for us on Sunday. He’s a great offensive player and an emotional player for us, so we hope he can establish himself there. Jay Baum is going to be a really good player, and he might have to play some third base for us this weekend. They’ll all get their time out there,” said Leggett.
The Tigers will keep the same Friday and Saturday starters, but there could be a change for Sunday.
“Friday and Saturday are going to be the same as they have been, with Kevin Brady and Dominic Leone (in that order). Sunday is to be determined. We’re going to figure that out as we go along,” said Leggett.
Coach Leggett hopes to see more consistency from the Tigers.
“We need more consistency up and down our lineup. Offensively, we have to get some guys going. We have to get some production out of some guys and make it more even throughout the lineup. We didn’t play well defensively on Sunday, but that’s something that’s uncharacteristic of us. We’re going to be a good defensive team. The thing I liked the most about our team is that we’ve been able to battle back from being down in tough situations. We overcame a lot of adversity to win ballgames last weekend and hopefully that’ll be a trademark of this team,” said Leggett.