|by David Hood|
His message was simple – this one is over.
The Tigers were plagued by defensive breakdowns, poor baserunning, the short game and the long ball and now Clemson finds itself on the brink of elimination, forced to win four games in three days to survive the regional.
In an understatement, he called Friday’s outing a tough day.
“Obviously, a rough day for us. We started out pretty good then the fourth, fifth and sixth inning I think we ran into trouble controlling their bunt game and run game,” Leggett said. “Bottom line is that they outhit us, outpitched us, outplayed us, but the good thing is, regardless of the score, it’s one game. We’ve been here before. “
As a result, Leggett said it didn’t take long for him to figure out what to say to his team once the game was over.
“I was thinking about what I needed to tell them, and I told them that this one has to be over,” he said. “We have to forget about tonight and start focusing on tomorrow. We have to get our mindset ready to play tomorrow. We have to recover and be ready to play. We can’t let it fester and we aren’t going to sit here and try to figure it out. We just have to be ready to play.”
He said that the Tigers have to quickly forget about the tough day.
“Our mindset is this one is behind us, and we are going to move on to the next one,” he said. “Tomorrow’s a new day for them. Tomorrow’s a new day for us. Immediate thing is you got to put this one behind you because if this one festers for a long period of time it will fester right into tomorrow. My message to the team is this one is over. Tomorrow is a new day for them and a new day for us.”
What will it take for the Tigers to come back and win those four games in three days, especially against teams like Vanderbilt, Oregon and Xavier? Probably nothing short of a Music City Miracle, but second baseman Steve Wilkerson said it can be accomplished if the players believe.
“Everyone's got to be 100 percent behind all their teammates, every at-bat, every pitch," Wilkerson said. "We've got to believe in ourselves."
Leggett said that every loss counts the same, regardless of the score, and he hopes his players can forget about Friday and begin to prepare for Saturday.
“You can lose 5-3, 7-1 or on a walkoff,” Leggett said. “There are a number of ways you can lose and feel bad. This was embarrassing and not what we want for our baseball team. But at the same time we didn’t win the game and we have to put this loss behind us and be ready to play tomorrow. They can’t take their runs into tomorrow and we can’t take today into tomorrow. We have to wipe the slate clean, and wipe it clean really quick.”
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org