TigerNet.com
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:51 AM
Young guns
by Nikki Steele
Staff Writer

Clemson pitching coach Dan Pepicelli had a veteran pitching staff during the first three years with the Tigers, but this year he must teach a rookie staff how to pitch on the collegiate level.

The Tigers and Pepicelli have eight freshman pitchers, and each one has pitched in the first games of the season as they try to adopt Pepicelli’s “one pitch at a time “mentality and adjust to the speed of the college game.

In the series against Wright State this past weekend, the Tigers scored 18 runs while only giving up three, ad Pepicelli told TigerNet that the increased offensive production has allowed his young guys to ease into the flow of the game.

“Any time the offense can be productive and give us a little margin for error for the young guys, that’s a bonus,” Pepicelli told TigerNet. “I think we kind of saw that Saturday night. We weren’t great that night. The scoreboard showed zeros, but we made a lot of mistakes. We’ve been so good offensively that we’ve allowed those guys to relax and learn how to pitch at the college level being out there the first time.”

The key for the freshman is staying ahead in the count- something they have done well so far in the young 2012 season.

“They are doing a good job,” Pepicelli said. “They are working ahead in the count, which is really important. Any time we can keep move the count in the direction we want to move it, I think we’re going to have some success.”

They young guns are eager to learn, but the veterans are the glue that holds the pitching staff together.

“They’re [the freshmen] energized. They get me excited to come to work,” Pepicelli said. “They are very, very open to suggestion and there are a lot of things that we can do. At the same time, we have a veteran in Scott Firth that keeps it all together for us because he just provides incredible leadership on the pitching staff. Joseph Moorefield is the same way and so is Johnny Meyer. I’ve just got a corps of leaders that are helping the young kids tremendously.”


When Clemson takes on Winthrop tonight, freshman Matthew Crownover will take the mound, and Pepicelli said he just wants his freshman to focus on making quality pitches.

“I’m honestly locked in on Winthrop right now,” Pepicelli said. “That’s what we just talked about. We are all about making a quality pitch no matter who the opponent is. When you have a young pitching staff like we have, it’s really, really important to be that way. Right now all they are interested in is making quality pitches no matter who the opponent is.”

Pepicelli has full confidence in his weekend rotation and his looking for senior Scott Firth to continue his success in Columbia, when the Tigers battle in-state rival South Carolina Sunday afternoon.

“There’s a good balance where we’re at right now,” Pepicelli said. “I think we’re going to leave Scottie where he’s at. I have a lot of confidence in him going down next weekend and being able to pitch on the road. You always leave it open, but I really like where we’re going right now. I think we’re going to leave Clate [Schmidt] in that two spot. I feel good about Clate. He’s a young kid and he’s got a lot to learn. He’s in that one pitch at a time mentality and I’m confident in him.”


Nikki Steele can be reached at nikki@tigernet.com