Clemson’s Adam Hackenberg had quite the opening series for the Tigers this past weekend.
The catcher out of Palmyra, Virginia went 6-for-13 at the plate and finished the weekend off with an impressive team high 4 RBIs. Hackenberg, who held the backup catcher position last year behind current Pittsburgh Pirate prospect Kyle Wilkie, says the lessons, skills, and experience he gained from Wilkie were easily more valuable than any amount of time he missed taking the field in his first season as a Tigers.
“Sitting behind Kyle last year was probably the biggest blessing I’ve had in my baseball career and just getting to learn from a guy who obviously got to play a ton and is in pro-ball now,” Hackenberg said. “Just watching him and seeing how he managed the game, kept everyone under control, and just kept his composure out there. Just how he was a leader and not just a catcher has helped me a lot coming into this year.”
Heading into his second year as a Tiger, but his first as the team’s starting catcher, Hackenberg knows he has some big shoes to fill behind the plate, but the sophomore is confident in his ability to take control of the game and slow it down for himself and his team.
“I’m just going up to the plate with an approach every pitch depending on the count and stuff, things can change, but I’ve really just been trying to take it one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, just really trying to slow the game down. There’s a lot of times in baseball where you try to speed up for the game instead of making the game slow down for you and so that’s just been a big part of my success just slowing the game down for myself.”
It came as no surprise that head coach Monte Lee was very pleased with the performance of Hackenberg and the rest of his ballclub in their opening weekend, which ended in an impressive sweep over a tough Liberty opponent. Lee says he looks to players like Elijah Henderson, Kier Meredith, and Adam Hackenberg, who may not necessarily bring the most experience, but they bring their best day in and day out, and that was certainly on display in this first weekend of play.
“They understand what it means to be a baseball player, a true baseball player, and that you have to play on both sides of the ball,” Lee said. “And you have to be a great base runner when you are on base, too. They just play team baseball and every guy that we play just does a really good job of competing, but certainly some of these new guys that don’t have a lot of starting experience, I’m really proud of the way they played this weekend.”
After a clean sweep of Liberty in the opening weekend, Hackenberg and the rest of the Tigers look to Tuesday when they face The Citadel Bulldogs in their first mid-week matchup of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
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