Tigers will start 2 freshmen on opening weekend

Tigers will start 2 freshmen on opening weekend

Baseball

Tigers will start 2 freshmen on opening weekend

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Veteran Davis Sharpe will get the start on opening day

Clemson head coach Monte Lee announced Tuesday junior Davis Sharpe will get the baseball first for the Tigers when they open the 2021 season Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.

However, Sharpe getting the ball on opening day against Cincinnati is not the story. That was expected. What was not expected was the fact two freshmen in Ty Olenchuk and Caden Grice will start Games 2 and 3 for Clemson.

“I know there will probably be some stories written about it this week that Clemson is starting two freshmen on the weekend. They are young and these guys don’t have any experience. Those kinds of things,” Lee said.

But this is nothing new for Lee. He has personally started two freshmen before when he was the head coach at the College of Charleston. In those days, Lee started Christian Powell, Jake Zokan, Matt Pegler, Bailey Ober and Tyler Thornton when they were freshmen.

“We threw some guys as starters when they were freshmen, and they were very good,” Lee said. “In 2014, we played in a Super Regional and had two freshmen as weekend starters. So, I am not scared of it whatsoever to start a guy as a freshman.”

Lee started Sharpe as the Tigers’ regular Friday night pitcher during his freshman season in 2019. He also started Keyshawn Askew that same year when he was a freshman.

“We are not afraid to start a guy when he is a freshman,” the Clemson coach said. “Davis started on Fridays when he was a Freshman. I can remember we were up at Boston College and he was dominant on the road as a starter, as a true freshman.

“So, it does not worry me whatsoever to start a guy that is a true freshman if they are ready for it.”

As a coaching staff, Lee says they think a lot of Olenchuk’s and Grice’s ability and their potential as high- level college pitchers. Olenchuk is a righty from Irmo, S.C., while Grice is a lefty from Greer, S.C.

“I am excited to see these guys go out there and start this weekend and go compete against somebody else because I have been watching them all fall and then here in the early preseason and they have looked very, very good,” Lee said.

Hackenberg is out. Lee said catcher Adam Hackenberg (arm) will not play against Cincinnati. Lee said he will be out a “few weeks.”

Jonathan French will start in his place on Friday. Cooper Ingle will also play behind the plate this weekend, according to Lee.

Hall is out for the weekend. Lee said OF/INF Sam Hall will be out for the opening weekend series against Cincinnati due to injury. Hall will be out for a few weeks, according to Lee.

Lee would not specify what Hall’s injury is at this time.

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