|Tigers, Gossett ready for challenge of No. 7 South Carolina|
|by Nikki Steele - Staff Writer - Thursday, February 28, 2013 3:53 PM||
The base paths are still lined with white chalk, third base is still 90 feet from home plate, and the pitcher’s mound sits 60 feet and six inches away from the batter.
What makes this weekend’s baseball series different?
Fans, coaches, and players from Clemson and South Carolina will clash in the Reedy River Rivalry.
Sophomore pitcher Daniel GossettDaniel Gossett
So. RH Pitcher
#23 6-0, 180
View Full Profile met the media Thursday afternoon in Doug Kingsmore Stadium to discuss the three-game series and what he has come to know of the rivalry.
Fifteen of Clemson’s 35-man roster are freshman, and Gossett said the rookies got their first taste of the rivalry during football season, but despite the intensity they have to play the Tigers’ brand of baseball if they are to emerge victorious.
“Most of them knew coming in that it was going to be a pretty tough rivalry and then when we went through football season they kind of got a taste of it then,” Gossett said Thursday. “I told them not to let the fans get to them. It’s going to be a good environment so the fans will be into it. I just told them to play the game. The mound is still 60 feet and six inches away. The pitcher is still going to be throwing the ball and trying to get you to miss it so we just have to play our game.”
Gossett knows that many fans base a season’s success on how the Tigers fare against the Gamecocks, which made losing to South Carolina in game seven of the regionals that much harder.
“There’s no doubt about it because most of the fans would base a football season off of if we beat Carolina- good season or bad season so to know that they were the ones that put us out of the tournament it’s just an extra weight on your shoulder,” he said. “They put us out, how are we going to take this? How is this going to affect our game? We just have to play baseball.”
Gossett started the winner’s bracket game in the NCAA Regionals against South Carolina last June, pitching seven innings, giving up four hits, two runs, and three walks while striking out eight.
That game stuck with him throughout the off-season and he said that he has used what he learned in that game to propel him to the great start that he’s had in 2013.
“Obviously it’s going to help with my confidence, but at the same time I know that I have to come out and have my A-game because they are a great team ranked seventh in the nation,” he said. “I’m going to have to have my good stuff, my great stuff in order to pitch effectively.”
Every time the Tigers step on the diamond, they want to play to their standard of best no matter the opponent.
“We are trying to stay in the pitch and not in the moment,” he said. “We don’t try and say, ‘Okay, we’re playing Carolina, I have to pitch my extra best.’ If it’s a midweek game on a Tuesday or if it’s the final game of the national championship, we are going to pitch the exact same, our very best.”
But, there’s a little added pressure to make the diving grab up the middle or the throw to the plate as the runner is sliding into home because let’s face it, no Clemson Tiger wants to lose to a team with a South Carolina logo on their ballcaps.
“It’s always been like that- Clemson and Carolina- nobody wants to lose to the other,” he said. “We are going to play our top-notch. We are going to make that extra dive in the hole, throw it as hard as we can instead of maybe 95-percent. That’s just the nature of the rivalry. It’s always been a good rivalry and always will be a good rivalry. You’re expected to give 100-percent. You’re expected to dive after that ball. I think everyone expects it- fans, coaches, and players. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Tigers and Gamecocks will play at 6:30 p.m. Friday night in Clemson, 2 p.m. at Fluor Field in Greenville on Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday in Columbia.
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