Brooks Crawford was lights out down the stretch for Clemson in 2018 and he is looking to build on last year’s success as a new season begins.
The Tigers took the field at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Friday to officially begin practice for the 2019 season. And, while they have some rebuilding to do, they return a solid chunk of innings from last year’s starters.
The only starting pitcher Clemson will miss this season is Jake Higginbotham, who was drafted No. 322 by the Atlanta Braves after last season.
Crawford is excited about what the pitching staff brings to the field as the Tigers’ offense looks to rebuild after losing Chris Williams and Seth Beer to the major leagues. He feels they have a solid stall of arms that can lead the team to another successful season but has his sights set on bigger things than another regional.
Crawford felt like his time at Clemson was not complete after missing a chunk of his time in a Tiger uniform with mono and now the goal is simple but lofty.
“I told my teammates if I come back we are going to Omaha, so that’s one of our big goals,” Crawford said.
The senior right-hander is returning as the team leader in both wins and innings pitched, based off the metrics he seems to be a shoe-in for the Friday starting slot. But, he is more focused on winning games and keeping the Tigers in the chase.
“People want to be the Friday guy, everybody wants to be the Friday guy, but Saturday is just as important,” Crawford said. “If you lose on Friday you have to win Saturday and same thing with Sunday,” he said.
He finished last season with an 8-2 in 80.2 innings pitched over 16 starts. The Tigers were 14-2 when Crawford started on the bump.
Crawford looks to provide consistency on the mound that Clemson seemed to lack at times year and he does not want to repeat last year’s home loss in the Clemson Regional.
“I’ve been here for four years, we have hosted every year I’ve been here and losing at home is a big deal for us,” he said. “I feel like if we are hosting this year that’s not going to happen again,” Crawford said.
Clemson opens the season on Feb. 15, at 4 p.m., against South Alabama in Game 1 of a three-game series.