Leggett, Tigers turn the page, hurt, determined, and with essential work to do

'No one wants to feel like this...We work extremely hard at what we do, and we care about what we do'

Clemson infielders Tyler Krieger, left, and Shane Kennedy reflect following the Tigers' 3-1 loss to Liberty eliminating them from the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament in Columbia on Sunday.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson infielders Tyler Krieger, left, and Shane Kennedy reflect following the Tigers' 3-1 loss to Liberty eliminating them from the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament in Columbia on Sunday.

They call themselves the 'Clemson Grumps' or '@3rdBaseGrumps' in Twitter parlance.

They describe themselves as 'Grumpy old men at Clemson baseball games. We yell at opposing players, umpires, and sometimes at our own No. 7.'

A group of friends who began buying a block of season tickets on the third-base side of Doug Kingsmore Stadium in 1987, the 'Grumps' summed up the end of Clemson's season as aptly as anyone on Sunday.

"For 26 years, we've experienced losing the last game we play," they tweeted. "Grumpy? YES! BUT we'll make it 27."

Like the 'Grumps,' Clemson's No. 7 will be back at work today, firing up the machinery for the Tigers' 2014 season.

Later this week, Major League Baseball will hold its annual draft, and Jack Leggett will be watching closely. He and recruiting coordinator Bradley LeCroy signed what they believe will be another class of difference-makers back in November, and two of Clemson's signees - power-hitting outfielder Austin Meadows of Loganville, Ga. and catcher Chris Okey of Eustis, Fla. are projected as high draft choices - Meadows consistently as a high first-rounder.

Enrolling a high draftee like Meadows would be a rarity, but it would certainly help address one of primary maladies that resulted in Clemson's untimely demise at the hands of unheralded Liberty.

Leggett's 2013 Tigers did a lot of good things. Freshmen had to carry a disproportionate share of the load, and they carried it well, with different players stepping to the forefront and delivering clutch performances at various points in the season.

But from the start, the Tigers lacked a truly dominant bat, or a combination of dominant bats, that define most of college baseball's most successful teams.

Even so, they played their way to very verge of hosting their own NCAA regional as a No 1 seed.

What happened at the end of the season was an aberration in the context of the Tigers' total body of work.

After Clemson blew a five-run ninth-inning lead in their second ACC tournament matchup - a game that might well have clinched an NCAA regional host bid - the Tigers weren't the same team.

They were blown out in a lackluster final ACC game against Miami, shipped off to Columbia for a regional on South Carolina's home field, and then scratched out just four runs in 18 innings against Liberty. They finished the season by winning just one of their last eight games.

Time and time again, the Tigers put themselves in position to break through offensively. And time and time again, they failed to deliver the timely, opportunistic hits that most often separate losing and winning.

After their final game on Sunday, the Tigers - most of whom will return for next year - vowed to learn from their failure and get it right next season.

There is no magic switch to flip, of course.

A successful baseball team is the sum of its many moving parts, and the little things add up in a big way.

The Tigers seem to have a firm grasp of what they need to do better, and that's a start.

"The problem was just not getting big hits at the right time," said freshman outfielder Steven Duggar. "Going back to the FSU series, we outhit them but couldn't come up with big hits with guys on base. Getting guys on base wasn't the problem."

"It's been the same thing for a week or so," agreed sophomore catcher Garrett Boulware. "We get them in scoring position and then, for whatever reason, we can't get the big hit. It's no one's fault in particular - we all want to hit."

"We've got to get a little more seasoned and a little more experienced," said Leggett. "We work at it every single day. We know what we've got to do."

As the Tigers turn the page, Leggett promised they won't lack for motivation.

"You always remember things," he said. "No one wants to feel like this...We have a lot of competitive kids on this team. We take a lot of pride in what we do, we work extremely hard at what we do, and we care about what we do...

"We'll rebound and we'll get ready to play next year. We'll be back. We've got a lot of good things ahead of us."

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Comments » 3

DMM writes:

Boy have the tables turned - now it's Clemson saying 'wait til next year'. Jack is full of excuses - everyone has the same issues - rebuilding, losing players to the draft, etc. - yet Jack still uses the same old lame reasons why he can't take it to the next level. Amazing how lots of other teams can. How about a new direction Radakovich ?

clmtgr92 writes:

Twenty years of less than stellar results and Leggett still has a job at Clemson. How? Even basketball is held to a higher standard, Men's and Women's, and we always stink in both. It is time to go in a new direction with someone who will win and develop players that succeed in the MLB. Name the last MLB All-Star from Clemson?
Leggett has twice gotten to within one game of the CWS Championship game. Both times all he had to do was beat University of Stupid Chickens once. How did that work out? We lost back to back games twice in three years and the Chicken Coop celebrated their 1st CWS title.
Winning the ACC should not be the goal for Clemson Baseball. We need to set the bar higher and start with a new coach

33dtb writes:

"...."The problem was just not getting big hits at the right time,".........."

Someone recently pointed out that "small ball" teams usually won the CWS.

Two words......tommy bowden

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