Teammates may change but the brotherhood will last forever for the Clemson baseball team.
It was an emotional day for Clemson at Doug Kingsmore after the Tigers got beat, 19-6, by Vanderbilt in the Clemson Regional Finals on Sunday.
It marked the third year in a row Clemson has had 40-plus win season and then lost their opportunity to get to Omaha and the College World Series in the regionals.
First baseman Chris Williams was very emotional after the second loss to Vanderbilt in as many days. Although Williams put Clemson on the scoreboard with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and drove in another run later with a double, the loss ended his collegiate career.
“Today was disappointing but there’s nothing to be disappointed about,” the senior said. “But, our guys fought as hard as we could. Yeah we came up short…but I thought the score was going to be opposite, honestly.
“We can’t dictate that though. Baseball is very random and there is not a lot that we can do. We just have to move on I guess.”
Williams had the opportunity to leave Clemson last year after getting drafted in the MLB Draft, but chose to come back for his senior year after recovering from a shoulder injury. He wanted one last ride with his Clemson teammates.
“This year has been amazing,” he said. “My past three years here have been nothing short of amazing. I’m extremely grateful to have had this opportunity to come to such an amazing school.
“I grew up in Orange County, California. All throughout my young life I never left home. The longest I was ever away from home was for like a weekend. To move out here and to be as welcomed as I was by everyone, including the coaching staff, the players, the people of Clemson, it’s been amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Williams ended his senior year with 18 home runs and a team-high 72 RBIs, to go along with a .281 batting average. He was a part of one Clemson team that won the ACC Tournament Championship in his first year in Tigertown and then this year he helped guide Clemson to its first ACC Regular Season Championship in 12 years.
“We get new faces in every year, but then you also get familiar faces,” Williams said. “You have this group of guys around you and you say ‘alright this is our team, these are my brothers’ and that’s who you are going to play with to get to Omaha.
“It just kind of happens seamlessly. Everyone works together and becomes a team, a unit and brothers. It’s really cool and I am really looking forward to following these guys next year.”
William’s collegiate career is over, but Clemson head coach Monte Lee had plenty to say about the standout first baseman.
“We don’t get as deep as we did these last few years without a player like Chris Williams,” Lee said. “He had a great career. He had an unbelievable year. This is a guy who had an injury, came back to school after getting drafted as a junior because he didn’t want to start his professional career injured.
“He came back to Clemson and had an unbelievable senior year. I can’t wait to see who takes him in the draft. They are going to get a special player and young man.”
The MLB Draft begins tonight on the MLB Network.