Lee: 'I think if we continue to focus on this year as a coaching staff and as players, then you are going to see the level of pressure start to creep up for sure.'
Coming off the program’s first losing season in 64 years, Monte Lee understands there will be a sense of urgency in the Clemson baseball program going forward.
Next year will be Lee’s seventh season as the skipper in Tigertown and winning, contending for an ACC Championship, getting back to the NCAA Tournament and being in position to win a regional will all be the things the media and fans will be talking about.
The pressure to succeed in Clemson baseball might be at its highest form since the days when the program made a regular appearance in the College World Series or a Super Regional.
“That is a heck of a challenge,” Lee said. “We are all human and we all know what type of season we just had. I think it is normal and it is natural to understand that, but it is my job as the head coach, first and foremost, to lead by example.”
Lee feels the No. 1 thing he has to do is get his players to accept this past year for what it was and move forward. Having a windshield mentality is never going to be greater for the Clemson baseball program.
“My message is going to be, ‘Look this is what our program is all about and we are moving forward,’” the head coach said.
The 2022 Clemson team will have its first team meeting on Aug. 18. Lee cannot wait to get in front of his players and talk about what the baseball program at Clemson is all about and how they are going to move forward and get ready to make a run in 2022.
“We are not going to talk about this year. I think if we continue to focus on this year as a coaching staff and as players, then you are going to see the level of pressure start to creep up for sure. It is going to be on the back of your mind, all the time,” he said. “So, guys don’t play good baseball unless they are loose. We all know that and that has not changed over the course of hundred years in the game of baseball. The more loose you are, the more confident you are, and the more guys understand it is a game and you are supposed to have fun on game days.
“The work is in the practice. That is where we put in our work and that is where we challenge our guys. But on game day, it should be just like when you were a little kid going out to recess. You should be excited about getting to go outside and playing the game of baseball.”
Another big factor is the team has to block out all the outside noise. Fans and media are going to talk about the 25-27 season. They are going to talk about the 16-20 record in the ACC. They are going to talk about the Tigers’ inability to advance past a regional, something the program has not done since the 2010 season.
“We can’t worry about the outside noise. The outside noise is only going to create pressure between the lines,” Lee said. “We have to embrace that, and we have to understand to just go out and play and compete and make sure that you trust your training. We have to get back to those basics, but we also just have to move forward.”
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