Tigers plan to have fun in Clemson Regional like they have all season
There is no denying Clemson has a little more pressure to win this weekend’s Clemson Regional than the other three teams in it.
This year marks the third straight year the Tigers have hosted an NCAA Tournament Regional. The first two years, the Clemson faithful were excited to see their Tigers back at home hosting a regional. Now, in year three, they are ready to see their ballclub end the eight-year drought of not reaching the Super Regional Round of the tournament.
At one time, Clemson fans thought getting to a Super Regional was their birth right. In the first 12 years after the Super Regionals were created, Clemson advanced nine times, including four trips to the College World Series.
However, the Tigers have not made it out of a regional since winning the Auburn Regional in 2010, and have not won a home regional since 2009.
“I think there is always a sense of urgency and we have always had high expectations at Clemson,” head coach Monte Lee said. “I don’t think that has changed. I don’t know if I would say the sense of urgency is any different this year necessarily than any other year and with other teams.
“I think that this team, this year, is the most prepared and the most ready to handle it. That would be my feelings towards that.”
Clemson, who plays Morehead State at 6 p.m. in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional, comes in with a 45-14 record and perhaps the most talented team it has had under Lee to this point. There are a number of players, like outfielder Seth Beer, first baseball Chris Williams, infielder Jordan Greene and pitchers Brooks Crawford, Ryley Gilliam and Jake Higginbotham, who have been around for all three regionals and are ready to help the Tigers move forward.
“This group of players has been here and a number of them played on last year’s team. A number of them played on the 2016 team that hosted a regional. There have been a lot of ups and there have been some downs with this group,” Lee said. “But, I think they are mature enough and have the experience to be able to handle it and are ready to go. They are very confident that we can play our best baseball this weekend and that we can win this regional.”
The Tigers also are loose, which is one reason why they have played so well for so long this season.
“We expect to win every single day,” Higginbotham said. “When we go out there, we expect to win. We know we are going to have fun. We are always with each other whether it is on the field or off the field. We are always with each other and having fun.”
Clemson seems to have fun whether it is at batting practice prior to a game, during practice or while Lee is trying to conduct an in-game television interview, they are always displaying their fun side and how loose they are in the dugout.
“We are definitely loose,” shortstop Logan Davidson said. “We have a lot of personality on this team from even the younger guys all the way to the seniors. We definitely keep it loose, but we definitely get after it too and know when it is time to work.”
Higginbotham says Clemson has a really talented team and a group of coaches that work hard that they know they are always well prepared to play so when game day gets here it’s about having fun and enjoying the game they always love to play.
“When we get out there in the field or in the dugout, it is just a great environment,” he said. “We play with a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger. We are just having fun and playing baseball. At the end of the day it is playing baseball. It is just a game so you are supposed to be having fun.”