Although it sounds repetitive, it was again a freshman who caught the eye of everyone Monday night in No. 14 Clemson’s 7-6 win over Charlotte at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Keyshawn Askew had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning of the game. He earned his first career win in his first ever start and appearance by pitching 5 1/3 innings and only giving up two hits, three runs and one walk with six strikeouts.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘Just stay focused, stay focused. Don’t think about anything else. Just focus on the game,’” Askew said afterward. “One pitch at a time and my guys around me, every time I came off of the mound it was just open arms.
“Like, ‘Hey great inning, great inning.’ They were just feeding me confidence and I kept rolling with it. I got in a groove to where I could just flow through. I give credit to my batters because they gave up a good fight and I’m just happy with my performance.”
After an infield error and then a walk with one out in the top of the first, Clemson pitching coach Andrew See came out to talk to Askew. It was clearly effective as Clemson turned a double play on the next pitch to get out of inning. Askew then cruised from there.
“In the first inning I was a little flustered,” he said. “It was the first start so I kind of just got the nerves out of the way. But Coach See came out and he just said like, ‘Hey man. Just throw strikes. That’s what you’re here to do. That’s what you’ve always done since you started playing. So it’s simple. Just keep it simple and go get an out.’
“And he literally he told me, ‘You’re going to throw this pitch, we’re going to turn a double play and we’re going to get out of this inning.’ And it happened so I give credit to my infield because they made it look smooth.”
A dominant first-career start, especially as a freshman is crucial for confidence building and Askew says that’s exactly what happened for him Monday night.
“Building confidence. That’s all it is,” he said. “Just building the confidence and going into the next start or the next outing I have knowing that I’ve gotten my first little flusters out of the way and now it’s just time to go.”
In the first four games of the season, the freshman class has proven the future of the Tigers looks bright. Davis Sharpe, Justin Wrobleski and Askew have all done well in their pitching debuts, while Sharpe along with catcher, Adam Hackenberg have brought power to the plate with home runs early on.
“Our class is a really tight-knit group,” Askew said. “We’re always hanging out with each other. We’re always focused.
“We came here with one thing to do and that’s to get past a regional and get to Omaha. The way we’ve been focused so far I don’t see anyone stopping us.”