SAN DIEGO — Aamir Simms was not really sure why Clemson baseball hats were laying in their locker following their 84-53 victory over Auburn on Sunday at the Viejas Arena in San Diego, but he liked it.
In fact, the whole team did.
Simms knew the story behind the hats, and why they have a Tiger Paw on the back with “Omaha” stitched in the middle of the paw. Of course Omaha is in Nebraska and is the home of the College World Series.
With 12 College World Series appearances through the years, Clemson and its baseball fans have always felt going to Omaha was its birth right, if you will.
However this year, Omaha is also hosting the Midwest Regional Semifinals in the NCAA Tournament. So Clemson baseball coach Monte Lee felt it was only fitting to make sure the basketball team was given the real “Clemson Omaha” hats as they make their journey to college baseball’s Mecca.
“That’s the goal. That’s what I was saying,” Simms said. “I saw the hats and I was surprised. I didn’t know what they were for, but then I looked at the baseball hats and I knew something was going on with the correlation.
“I’m just really excited. We are excited. We can’t wait to get out there.”
Clemson guard Marcquise Reed said seeing the hats really surprised him and was special to the team because they knew the people back at Clemson were thinking about them and pulling for them this past week.
“They are sweet,” said Reed, who scored 16 points against Auburn. “I’m real grateful and thankful. That is a real good sign for our program.”
Clemson, who will be making its first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 20 years when it plays No. 1 seed Kansas next Friday, plans to wear their Omaha hats when they travel to the Nebraska city later this week.
“I was very surprised,” said center Elijah Thomas after he scored 18 points and hauled down 11 rebounds against Auburn. “I did not think we were getting these hats. I like them a lot.
“That is tight,” he said as he took off the hat and looked at the Tiger Paw with Omaha stitched in it on the back. “I did not know it said that. That is pretty cool.”
Simms says he hopes the basketball team’s run through the NCAA Tournament will give Lee and his team some inspiration to reach their dream and achieve their goals this season.
“It’s going to show that the Tigers are here and the world is going to realize we are going to bring it,” Simms said. “This is really exciting for us right now and we hope it inspires the baseball team as well.”