Despite a disappointing weekend for head coach Erik Bakich and his Clemson team after succumbing to the series loss at the hands of in-state rival South Carolina on Sunday, the Tigers did come away with a bright spot in the form of rookie Cam Cannarella.
The Palmetto State native led the Tigers offensively against the Gamecocks, going 6-for-13 with three doubles, two RBIs and a steal over the course of three games while earning the Bob Bradley Award as Clemson’s series MVP.
“Cam’s been doing this since the fall, since the preseason,” Bakich said on Sunday. “He’s very consistent, maybe our most consistent performer. Just has a knack to put the barrel on the ball and is just a tremendous athlete. Coach [Jimmy] Belanger says he’s one of the toughest players on our team to call pitches against in our intrasquads, and we’ve seen that so far, these first three weeks as well.”
From the jump, Cannarella has quickly inserted himself as a key piece to Clemson’s lineup. The freshman has started all 12 games for the Tigers out in center field and has proven to be a consistent contributor at the plate, coming away with a hit in all 12 games so far this season.
“He finds a way to hit the ball hard and I think that has a lot to do with just the strength he has from the neck up,” the head coach said. “He is poised, it is not moving fast for him, he’s got a slow heartbeat for the game, the moment never seems too big, he doesn’t seem rattled. We define mental toughness as the ability to stay in the middle, to stay neutral, to stay centered and he does that as well as anyone, and it’s especially impressive to be able to do that as a freshman.”
Through 12 starts, the 6-foot, 175-pound outfielder leads Clemson at the plate, hitting .420 with 21 hits, 13 runs, 11 RBIs, four doubles, one home run and one triple along with a .600 slugging percentage and a .455 on-base percentage.
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