Clemson jumped out to a solid 14-3 start to the 2020 season and had won five straight games, including a sweep of Boston College in ACC play before the season stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This season the Tigers enter with several key pieces from last season and plenty of motivation after hitting the brakes in the middle of a run.
Elijah Henderson touted the team’s leadership as the key to making the most of the 2021 season.
“Toughness, grit and leadership describe us this year,” the redshirt-junior said. “This is a self-run team, Coach [Monte] Lee hardly ever has to tell us anything because we police the team.”
The Tigers surged out of the gate with three sweeps and a 2-1 series win over rival South Carolina to start the season last year.
They finished the season with a sweep of the Eagles and two midweek wins with a 12-0 victory over Presbyterian College and a 3-2 win over Winthrop in 11 innings before the pandemic stopped the team midstride.
Clemson hit .264 with 81 runs in its first 17 games and held opponents to .214 while its pitchers had a 2.60 ERA.
The loss of pitchers Sam Weatherly, Spencer Strider and closer Carson Spiers will hurt the Tigers as well as the loss of bullpen pitchers Sheldon Reed and Spencer Strider. But Clemson still has a solid pitching staff with Davis Sharpe, Keyshawn Askew and freshman Caden Grice leading the way for weekend spots.
Clemson also returns graduate Mat Clark, Nick Clayton and several other with the addition of former Furman closer Rob Hughes.
At the plate, the Tigers are led by familiar faces like Elijah Henderson, Kier Meredith, Bryar Hawkins and James Parker.
Henderson thinks the toughness and focus on a team effort will prove to be the difference maker this spring as Clemson looks to advance to a super regional for the first time since 2010.
“We are tougher than any other team I have played with and selfless, if we need a job done, we get it done without asking any questions,” Henderson said.
Clemson opens the season when it hosts Cincinnati in a three-game series Feb. 19-21 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.