Now that it is in the NCAA Tournament, Clemson says it’s going to play with a nothing to lose mentality
Logan Davidson was not going to tell a lie. He was worried Clemson was not going to get into the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
“There was fear because you never, really know,” the All-ACC shortstop said on Monday. “With teams getting automatic bids that would not have gotten in otherwise, you never really know how it is going to play out. The only ones who know are the ones who are on the committee.”
Luckily for Davidson and the Tigers, the committee did not wait too long to tell them during Monday’s selection show in ESPNU. Clemson is the No. 3 seed in the Oxford (Miss.) Regional where it will play No. 2 Illinois on Friday at 4 p.m. The Game will be televised on ESPNU.
Ole Miss, the No. 12 overall seed in the field, will play Jacksonville State, the No. 4 seed in the regional, in Game 2 on Friday.
“There was definitely a little bit of fear there, but I thought we did a good job and had a couple of things coming in, like beating Louisville three out of four (games). They were one of the top teams. That was one of them,” Davidson said. “Sweeping North Carolina, that helped, but there were some things working against us too through that rough stretch.”
Clemson came close to not making the tournament this year. After starting the season 22-6, the Tigers faltered in the back half of the season, losing 17 of their final 28 regular season games, including an 8-game losing streak at one point. They also lost a record tying 9-straight ACC games during that same stretch.
However, Clemson turned things around late. It won four of its final six games, including a 7-1 victory over then No. 7 Louisville in the ACC Baseball Championships.
The win over the Cardinals, who won the ACC Regular Season Championship, was perhaps the deciding factor in Clemson earning an 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
“So, there was a little bit of fear, you can say, but at the end of the day, we are happy for the opportunity and we are going to go out and make the best of it,” Davidson said.
The Tigers (34-24) can now turn that fear into an opportunity to succeed. Clemson feels like it has nothing to lose in the Oxford Regional. This is the first time under head coach Monte Lee they are not hosting a regional in Clemson.
“For us, it is going to be a lot of fun,” Lee said. “There is not a lot of pressure on us, right now. We get to go on the road and play somewhere else. We would love to be hosting a regional here. We all know the expectations of the program here is to put together a regular season where you can host a regional.
“But the bottom line is we get to play in the field of sixty-four. We are going to go on the road and we’re going to have a good time. We are going to compete and hopefully play good baseball.”