CLEMSON, SC -- Every now and then Jack Leggett feels a twinge in his neck. He's
not sure how long it will be there, maybe six more months and it will go
away he hopes.
It's about all that remains from his skiing accident on Dec. 19 in Vail,
Colorado. Leggett lost his balance after hitting a depression in the snow
and landed on the back of his neck. He had surgery in Colorado to fuse two
Leggett knows he was lucky. The twinge reminds him how lucky.
"I was just thinking about it," he said earlier in the week after his team
was placed as the No. 4 seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. "It seems like
a long time ago really. It's been nearly a half year. It's actually been
loosening up, but every now and then it's a little sore."
Leggett threw away the neck brace he was wearing after Clemson's first
series of the year. However, the memory and the pain of the accident was a
constant reminder that he was indeed lucky to still be coaching.
He led a young team to a No. 1 national ranking by mid-March. Then watched
his team suffer through a mid-season batting slump before recovering by the
end of the season to sweep a series against Florida State and then finish
runner-up to Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
On Monday, Clemson was given a No. 1 seed in the regional being held at
Clemson this weekend and a No. 4 national seed. The Tigers are virtually
assured of playing the rest of their games at Doug Kingsmore Stadium until
they lose or advance to the College World Series.
Clemson advanced from a regional in Fayetteville, Ark., last season after
losing the first game of the regional 23-5 to Southwest Missouri State.
Clemson then lost to Texas A&M in the super regional after being three outs
from the CWS.
"We learned last year that it's a lot easier if you don't lose the first
game in either regional," said Leggett. "The ACC tournament is more of a
marathon, but this is more of a sprint and the first to get out of the
blocks is in a good position."
Clemson (45-16) plays Middle Tennessee State (37-21) at 7 p.m. Friday night.
MTSU won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion and brings a Clemson
transfer back to face his old teammates. Pitcher/outfielder Jeff Parsons
left Clemson after his freshman year. He's 5-5 with a 4.17 ERA this season
and has a .256 batting average. Illinois and Old Dominion are the other two
teams in the regional.
"At this point, there isn't a team that gets into a regional that doesn't
deserve to be there and they can't beat someone else," he said.
Leggett, though, knows that sometimes its better to be lucky than good.