By Will Vandervort
COLUMBIA — Right now, Clemson head coach Jack Leggett isn’t feeling too good. The college baseball season just came to a close for he and his Tigers and he says for the next two or three weeks he will be going through PSD – postseason depression.
But when all the “what ifs” and all the bad feelings leave his mind, Leggett says he will look back at the 2013 season as a good one and will look forward to a 2014 year that should be way better.
“This is a very tough time of the year when you lose your last game,” Leggett told the media after Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Liberty in the Columbia Regional, which eliminated Clemson from the NCAA Tournament. “Only one team doesn’t do that. I’m very proud of our team and what we have head of us.
“I’m very proud by the way we have battled. We have worked hard all year long. We have been in a lot of games like this. We garnered 40 wins against the fifth toughest schedule this year and had 16 wins from our freshmen pitchers which gives us something to look forward to.”
The Tigers, which finished the season 40-22, also played six freshmen in their starting lineup for much of the year and in Sunday’s game got two hits from freshman Steven Duggar, one from freshman Tyler Krieger, one from sophomore Tyler Slaton and three from sophomore catcher Garrett Boulware. Only one of Clemson’s eight hits came from an upperclassman, and that was a Thomas Brittle infield single in the first inning.
“We are going to get back to Clemson and we are going to regroup,” Duggar said. “We are going to do everything we can in the fall and there will be some new guys in next year that can help us out some. We just need to continue to get better and work on what we need to work on.
“Maybe this time next year we will be celebrating.”
But when the Tigers look back at the 2013 season, the thing that will stick out is the seven losses in the last eight games, plus the missed opportunities in most of those games that led to the late slide.
“I think it goes back to the problem of not getting big hits at the right time,” Duggar said. “Even in the Florida State series, we out hit them in all three games I believe. Getting hits and getting guys on base was not a problem it was just getting them in.
“You have to score runs to win ball games. We approached every game as a brand new slate. I don’t feel liked it snowballed, we just could not get it done when we needed to.”
Four times in Clemson’s last eight games it scored one run, or none at all, and twice it scored just three runs. In other words, the Tigers struggled with its situational hitting.
“It has been the same story for the last week or so,” Boulware said. “We get them in position and for whatever the reason we just can’t get the big hit.”
And that’s one of the things Leggett hopes to have solved between now and the start of the 2014 season.
“I really think if you had to pick one thing during the course of the year, that was probably our Achilles heel,” he said. “We always had men on base and we hit as well as every team we played and had about the same amount of hits all the time.
“We just had trouble coming up with the big hit with two outs or the big hit with men on base. We had some of the weirdest things happen. I’m hoping this game evens out at some point because the kids worked too hard. They know what they are supposed to do.”
So in the next week or so, Leggett will sit back and forget about how or why the 2013 season came to a sudden end after so much promise during 11 and nine-game winning streaks. Instead, he will go back and think about all the promise that lies ahead for the future, especially with so much young talent returning and some more coming in.
“Once I get past today, I’m going to choose to look at this as a real positive year and a positive future,” he said. “The real positive Clemson people that we have are really feeling good about what we have ahead of us. I think that is how I’m going to choose to look at it.
“It is difficult for the season to end, of course. That postseason depression deal for a couple of weeks is very difficult, but we will start preparing for next year and hopefully win a game or two more and play in front of our people and get ourselves in a little bit better situation for a better ending.”