Clemson baseball jumped out to a solid start last season with a 14-3 record, and then everything changed.
The Tigers won their last five games and prepared to load the bus and travel to Wake Forest and continue ACC play when word came from the ACC that the season would be postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the middle of March.
Outfielder Elijah Henderson remembers the mental strain when the team learned the season was cancelled.
“It was tough, like the rest of the world, we were about to hop on the bus and head to Wake Forest and then we got the call we weren’t going,” the redshirt junior said to The Clemson Insider recently. “We all knew it wasn’t going to be good just because of the way the coronavirus was hitting the rest of the world.”
Prior to the pause, Henderson was on a roll, as he hit .323 with 10 runs, seven doubles, 12 RBIs, with a .435 slugging percentage, .456 on-base percentage, 13 walks, three hit-by-pitches and three steals. He was tied for the team lead in games, starts and steals and only had six strikeouts.
But the outfielder knew the mental strain he faced was not unique and hopes the worst is behind him and his teammates.
“It not only affected us and our mentality but the whole world,” he said. “That’s just what we had to deal with and hopefully we won’t have to deal with it this year.”
Henderson could not contain his excitement surrounding the start of a new season on Feb. 19 when the Tigers host Cincinnati on opening day at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
“I can’t even put it into words, with our season being cut short I haven’t played another team in a year almost and I cannot wait to get out there and compete,” Henderson said. “I miss it so much … baseball has been a part of my life for my whole life and I can’t wait to get out there and just compete.”
First pitch on opening day against the Bearcats is set for 4 p.m.