By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Daniel Gossett is excited he gets to do something for a second year in a row that he once dreamed about as a kid – having the ball placed in his hand to start a new baseball season for the Clemson Tigers.
The 13th-ranked Tigers open up the 2014 baseball season Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium against Eastern Michigan. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
“It’s an honor to get this chance to be the opening-day starter for the second year in a row,” the junior said Thursday.
Gossett is just the first Clemson pitcher to start on opening day in back-to-back years since Ryan Mottl in 1999 and 2000. The junior made the most of his first opening-day start last year when he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks in a 2-0 victory over William & Mary.
“It’s exciting to get the opportunity to start the season off on a good note,” Gossett said.
Gossett had a good 2013 season. Besides his opening-day win against William & Mary, he posted nine more wins and finished the year 10-4 overall. His 10 wins led the team, while he posted a 2.56 ERA in 98.1 innings of work in 16 starts.
He also led the Tigers with 91 strikeouts – which doubled anyone else on the team.
The only thing standing between Gossett and the start of the baseball season is the Mother Nature. The winter-weather dropped 6 to 10 inches of snow in the Clemson and Upstate area during a three-day storm that saw at least once inch of snow fall on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
As of Thursday afternoon, the playing surface at Doug Kingsmore Stadium was draining as fast as it could once temperatures reached the high 40s and the snow started to melt. Interesting enough, Clemson spent much of the off-season digging up the field and placing a new drainage system under it.
Because of that, Clemson feels like it might be able to start the new season without a postponed game.
“The game is still on for Friday and we will evaluate (Thursday night) and Friday morning to see where the field is at,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said on Thursday afternoon. “We’re looking forward to getting out there and playing someone other than ourselves in front of big crowds at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.”
Clemson is 8-1 in its last nine season-openers, with its only loss coming to UAB in 2012.
“We’re looking forward to getting out onto the field on Friday against Eastern Michigan,” Leggett said. “They have a quality program with really good arms and hitters. It will be a good challenge for our team to start off on the right foot.”
Gossett is thrilled to get to start it with his right arm.
“It’s been a long off-season and we’ve been practicing extremely hard for this moment,” he said. “It’s exciting to show everyone what we’ve been working towards.”