In a matter of 17 hours, the Clemson baseball team went from the euphoria of winning a game in extra innings to having their season canceled. That is how fast the coronavirus killed the 2020 spring sports season in college athletics.
“It was really tough,” Clemson head coach Monte Lee said via a teleconference with the media on Wednesday.
Lee made sure he was up front and honest with his ballclub through the entire process, as he gave them all the information and updates, he had, whenever he could. A day after the NCAA announced it had canceled the College World Series, the Clemson coach informed his players the season was likely going to be canceled and they needed to go home and get themselves set up for e-learning so they could take care of their academics.
“It was very emotional. A lot of guys broke down,” Lee recalled. “I, obviously, got emotional. You start looking at some of these guys and, you think to yourself, there is a chance some of these guys may never wear a Clemson uniform again. What does the future look like for guys like a Sam Weatherly, a Carson Spiers and a number of guys that we don’t know quite yet if they will play for us again?
“It was an emotional day, that’s for sure. It has been tough to comprehend, I think, over the last few days since we had that meeting. But we can only control what we can control and right now, our primary focus is the safety of the student athletes and their academics.”
Lee said the comments he received from his players were more of disappointment and frustration with how abruptly the season came to an end.
“Guys were just really down,” he said. “It was … you are looking at guys and they are just in shock. That was the biggest thing that I took away from it, just the level of shock and disappointment, frustration, sadness. It was just a really hard pill to swallow.
“As far as us, as coaches, we are moving forward. I think that is the key. We are moving forward with communications with the players. Communication with their parents. Again, the primary focus right now is the academic side of things and what the transition looks like from being in the classroom and on campus to e-learning. Doing their academic work at home, through a computer. Just making sure we provide them with all the help we can give them.”
Unfortunately, the Clemson baseball season ends with not knowing what could have been. The Tigers were 14-3 at the time the season ended, including a 6-0 record in one-run games. In part of those 14 wins was a series victory over rival South Carolina.
“What a great season we had through 17 games,” Lee said. “Just how tough our guys are. I just appreciated how hard they competed. We were 6-0 in one-run games. We had six one-run games out of 17 competitions, and we won everyone of them. So, it just … when you look at it from a coaching standpoint, and as hard as it is, to have your season cut short like this, it also gives you a perspective and appreciation for the players you have and just the day in and day out journey that you get to go through with these guys.
“Those are things I went over with them. How much I loved them and how proud I was of them.”
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