Monte Lee's Tigers are winning games, having fun along the way
|Tuesday, April 11, 2017 12:41 PM- -|
Monte Lee met his team leaders as they exited the field in the middle of the third inning Sunday, and spent over a minute looking his players in the eyes, holding what looked like a mid-game pep talk.
The message was heard loud and clear.
The Tigers were already trailing Virginia Tech 2-0 in the third game of the series, had committed two errors and a sloppy relay throw from the outfield and had yet to muster any offense against the Hokie pitching staff.
Lee met the players in front of the dugout and showed why he’s the type of coach players love to play for.
“I told them, 'Hey, look guys we've made a few errors, and we're hitting some balls on the end of the bat. It has nothing to do with hustle and focus. It's just baseball.' And all I was trying to do was make sure they weren't getting frustrated because we didn't make a couple of plays,” Lee told TigerNet after the game. “I just wanted to make sure that the guys understood that these things happen. We had put together some good at-bats, but we tried to make some good adjustments. And we wanted to make sure they weren't letting physical mistakes affect them. They kept their cool, kept their focus, and kept plugging away.”
Clemson plays host to Charleston Southern Tuesday night in the midweek game, and they do so as a team on a hot streak. The Tigers stand at 28-5 overall, have won five games in a row and 27 out of their last 30 after a 1-2 start to the season. Clemson is 13-2 in ACC play – a game ahead of Louisville in the Atlantic standings – and are just ten wins shy of the 38 they had in the regular season a year ago with 23 to play.
The schedule starts to stiffen this weekend, however. Clemson travels to Florida St. for a three-game set this weekend, hosts Georgia in a mid-week game next Tuesday before hosting 20th-ranked Wake Forest in a critical three-game series the following weekend. They then host the College of Charleston before heading to Chapel Hill for a series against a top-five team in North Carolina.
Lee knows the difficult portion of the schedule lies ahead, but he wants to make sure his team remembers to have fun.
“I think we have a good feel for our club. We have been winning a lot, and number one I want to make sure they enjoy it and that they keep things in perspective,” Lee said. “Even though winning has become the norm through the season far, we have a lot of games to go, we have a lot of tough opponents ahead of us, but you have to respect the game, and you have to respect the process of showing up every single day. And just because we won the series on Saturday doesn't mean we can go through the motions on Sunday. And when we go through tough times, and at some point, this team will go through tough times, we have to draw upon how hard we work and how hard we compete. Because that is the only way, we will get out of it. Play hard and tough and compete, but enjoy it.”
Junior Robert Jolly said the fun is in the winning, and the Tigers are having a lot of fun so far this season.
“It's incredible. You look at the group of guys we get to be with every single day. It's just different,” Jolly said. “It's something that I've never really experienced before playing baseball. You show up every day, and you're with your best friends. And there is no pressure because you know how good everybody is. And everyone is pulling for everyone. We know we are going to go out there and compete and have fun. And there is a sense of knowing that it is the norm to win. And because we have such a tight group of best friends, we know that no matter what happens we are going to have fun competing. That turns into winning.”