Clemson baseball continued its dominance on Tuesday night, defeating Charleston Southern 5-0 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The Tigers, now 16-1 on the season, are seeing new players step up and compete at a high level. Through 17 games, 17 pitchers have taken the mound, while several freshmen athletes have earned their first career starts in the batting lineup or on the mound.
Matt Cooper is one of those Clemson freshmen. Last night, he found himself in the starting lineup for the first time in his career, getting the start as the Tigers’ designated hitter.
Finding out he would be starting before getting to the field helped Cooper relax and get ready to fill a large role for the team.
“I was trying to stay calm, stay within myself, and trying to do my normal routine,” Cooper said. “I didn’t try to get too hpyed up or what not. I was just trying to do what I normally do and see what I can do.”
Cooper made the most of his opportunity, notching the first two hits of his career as a Tiger. The Virginia Beach native earned his first hit on a single to the shortstop in the fifth inning and later singled again as part of a 2-for-3 effort.
“I was just trying to do what the other guys have been doing in our lineup,” Cooper said. “The guys have been hitting well. It’s good to be out there too. I knew there were probably going to be people on base and I knew we were going to be hitting well, so it was good to be out there and be a part of it.”
Cooper, who had only one at-bat entering the game, hopes to earn him a spot in the lineup more this season. But until then, he will just try to capitalize on the opportunities he is given.
“I’ll just make the most of what I can do, and if Coach (Monte) Lee is going to put me in there, I’ll try and make the best of it,” Cooper said.
Cooper and his teammates will now gear up to take on NC State in a three-game weekend series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, off to one of their best starts as a program at 16-1 and 3-0 in the ACC.
“Our confidence is really high and we know we can play with the best of them right now,” Cooper said. “I think that confidence is good for our hitters and pitchers and good for people to go out there and compete knowing they are doing well.”