Play Ball!


by - Senior Writer -
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Head Coach Jack Leggett has an 812-376-1 (.683) record at Clemson entering his 19th season.

CLEMSON – It’s February, yet thoughts of spring are already in everybody’s minds.

It could be the warmer weather we have had this winter, or it could be the fact that this Friday we get to hear one of the oldest phrases in American sports, “Play Ball!”

That phrase alone has a way of confusing your brain, of making you think that winter is over and thoughts turn to warmer days and longer nights and of a college baseball season that lasts well into June and ends in Omaha.

The sights and sounds of baseball at Clemson will once again return to Doug Kingsmore Stadium - the season opener this Friday at 4 p.m. as the Tigers take on UAB in the opener of a three-game series – whether it is Jack LeggettJack Leggett
Baseball Head Coach
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running into his player’s arms or Danny Cannon singing during the seventh inning stretch.

The Tigers will start junior right-hander Kevin BradyKevin Brady
RS Jr. RH Pitcher
#19 6-3, 220
Gaithersburg, MS

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on the mound Friday. The Maryland native had a 2-0 record and 3.86 ERA in 10 appearances (three starts) for a total of 23.1 innings pitched in early 2011 before missing the rest of the season with an arm injury.

Leggett met with the media earlier this week in the dugout at Doug Kingsmore, and admitted that his team has a lot of question marks, but they are questions he hopes are answered early in the season as many of the younger players see playing time.

One of the first questions Leggett was asked was about his outfield, which must replace three starters from last season.

“We will have three of them out there, we will have three guys,” a smiling Leggett said to reporters. “Actually, we are still working on it, but we have some guys who are stepping up. Thomas BrittleThomas Brittle
RS Jr. Outfielder
#4 5-8, 170
Cross, SC

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has done a really nice job in center field, and I feel comfortable with him out there. I think Tyler SlatonTyler Slaton
Fr. Outfielder
#18 5-7, 195
Cumming, GA

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is a freshman that has looked really good in the preseason, and Brad FelderBrad Felder
Gr. Outfielder
#3 6-0, 200
Bowman, SC

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has come along every day.”

Brittle sat out the 2011 season after transferring from the College of Charleston, where he hit .273 with 16 stolen bases in 76 games in 2009 and 2010. Felder is a graduate student who played for The Citadel in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Leggett said that just because a player starts this Friday doesn’t mean they will be starting in three weeks.

“It’s been like that every year,” he said. “We have got some good guys to choose from – we just have to find the right combination as the season goes along. Everybody has to keep playing and pushing each other and making everybody better. I want everybody to be on edge and want everybody to come down here every day and be ready to go.”

One player Leggett will be happy to see starting, however, is Brady.

“He has been through a lot of adversity,” Leggett said. “He lost his father a few years back with cancer, and he had the arm injury last year. He was drafted last year (17th round, Cleveland Indians) and decided to come back to school which is a great thing for us and him. He has been through some tough times but he has handled them extremely well. He has a big heart, and one of those guys you like to see out here every day. He gets better and better every time out.”

The Blazers and the Tigers have never met on the diamond, and UAB is coming off a 29-28 season, which included a 9-15 record in Conference USA. The Blazers return 16 lettermen and six position starters along with 13 of their 18 pitchers from a season ago. Senior infielder Patrick Palmeiro is among the top returning players. The son of former Major League great Rafael Palmeiro batted .284 with 16 doubles, eight homers, and 43 RBIs in 2011.

“It is going to be a good challenge for us,” Leggett said. “UAB has a good ballclub, and they are well-coached. They had a good season last year and have some experienced pitchers coming back. I want to see us play well, with good energy all weekend, all 27 innings. I want to see us execute on offense and get some good pitching performances. I want to see an aggressive, enthusiastic team that is on fire. That is what gets me excited and that is what gets our fans excited.”

Clemson will start junior right-hander Dominic LeoneDominic Leone
Jr. RH Pitcher
#6 5-11, 195
Norwich, CT

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on Saturday and senior right-hander David HaseldenDavid Haselden
Sr. RH Pitcher
#29 6-4, 240
Spartanburg, SC

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on Sunday, but who acts as the closer is still up in the air, according to Leggett.

Daniel GossettDaniel Gossett
Fr. RH Pitcher
#23 6-0, 160
Lyman, SC

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, I might give him a chance to do that,” Leggett said. “I like his competitive spirit and he comes right at you. He is a tough little guy. Clay BatesClay Bates
RS Fr. RH Pitcher
#42 5-11, 180
Rock Hill, SC

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has done a nice job for us so far…so we will probably spread that thing around a little bit early on.”





Game Notes

Clemson vs. UAB

Clemson (0-0), ranked as high as #16 in the nation, will open the 2012 season against UAB (0-0) in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this weekend. Game times are 4:00 PM (Friday), 1:00 PM (Saturday), and 1:00 PM (Sunday).

The Friday and Saturday games will be available live via webcast on TigerCast at ClemsonTigers.com. All three games will also be broadcast live on the radio by WCCP (104.9 FM) out of Clemson and can be heard live on the internet at WCCPFM.com. Live stats will be available at ClemsonTigers.com for all three games as well.

The Series

Clemson and UAB have never met on the diamond.

The Starting Pitchers

In game-one, UAB will start senior righthander Dillon Napoleon on the mound. The Winnetka, IL native had a 5-3 record and 2.87 ERA in 13 starts for a total of 84.2 innings pitched in 2011. He gave up 70 hits (.230 opponents’ batting average) and 26 walks with 56 strikeouts.

The Tigers will counter junior righthander Kevin Brady on Friday. The Gaithersburg, MD native had a 2-0 record and 3.86 ERA in 10 appearances (three starts) for a total of 23.1 innings pitched in 2011. He allowed 19 hits (.218 opponents’ batting average) and one walk with 33 strikeouts.

In game-two, the Blazers will send out junior righty Ben Bullard on the mound. The Decatur, AL native had a 5-1 record and 3.42 ERA in 19 appearances (two starts) for a total of 55.1 innings pitched in 2011. He allowed 54 hits (.269 opponents’ batting average) and 26 walks with 43 strikeouts.



Clemson will counter with junior righty Dominic Leone on Saturday. The Norwich, CT native had a 6-2 record and 3.70 ERA in 15 appearances (12 starts) for a total of 65.2 innings pitched in 2011. He yielded 53 hits (.219 opponents’ batting average) and 30 walks with 72 strikeouts.

The Blazers’ starter for game-three has yet to be determined.

The Tigers will start senior righthander David Haselden on Sunday. The Spartanburg, SC native had a 6-1 record and 2.23 ERA in 25 appearances (four starts) for a total of 76.2 innings pitched. He gave up 65 hits (.236 opponents’ batting average) and 14 walks with 49 strikeouts.

The Blazers

UAB, led by sixth-year Head Coach Brian Shoop, is a member of Conference USA and like the Tigers will play its first game on Friday. The Eagles are coming off a 29-28 season, which included a 9-15 record in Conference USA.

The Blazers return 16 lettermen and six position starters along with 13 of their 18 pitchers from a season ago. Senior infielder Patrick Palmeiro is among the top returning players. The son of former Major League great Rafael Palmeiro batted .284 with 16 doubles, eight homers, and 43 RBIs in 2011. Senior righthander Ryan Nance, who had a team-high eight saves in 2011, also returns in 2012.


The Tigers

Clemson enters the season-opening series against UAB ranked as high as #16 in the nation (by Baseball America). Clemson is also ranked #23 in the Sports Weekly preseason poll and #25 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. The Tigers are coming off a 43-20 season in 2011 when they hosted the Clemson Regional.

The Tigers return four position starters in 2012 and 20 lettermen overall. Among the top returnees are junior infielder Richie ShafferRichie Shaffer
Jr. Infielder
#8 6-3, 205
Charlotte, NC

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, who batted .315 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs in 2011. Senior utility player Phil PohlPhil Pohl
Sr. Catcher
#9 5-11, 215
Cooperstown, NY

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hit .333 with a team-high 22 doubles, while Jason StolzJason Stolz
Sr. Infielder
#2 6-2, 205
Marietta, GA

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batted .285 with a team-high 10 sacrifice bunts.

The Tiger pitching staff had a 3.32 ERA and 486 strikeouts against 183 walks in 2011. Senior righthander David Haselden had three saves along with a 6-1 record and 2.23 ERA in 25 appearances (four starts) in 2011.

Worth Noting

• Nine of Clemson’s first 13 games of the season will be against teams that played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

• Clemson has scored at least one run in 43 straight games.

Tigers Picked to Win ACC Atlantic Division Title in 2012

Clemson was picked to finish first in the ACC Atlantic Division according to the 12 league coaches in the preseason. The Tigers received seven first-place votes to win the ACC Atlantic Division, ahead of Florida State’s five first-place votes.

Behind Clemson and Florida State in the ACC Atlantic Division predictions were N.C. State, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Boston College.

North Carolina was picked to win the ACC Coastal Division title with seven first-place votes. Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Duke rounded out the ACC Coastal Division preseason picks.

North Carolina was picked to win the ACC overall title with seven first-place votes, while Georgia Tech (4) and Florida State (1) also received votes to win the league title.

Polls

Clemson enters the 2012 season ranked #16 in the Baseball America preseason rankings. The Tigers are also ranked #23 in the Sports Weekly preseason poll and #25 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. It is the 24th consecutive season that Clemson has had at least one preseason top-25 ranking.

Clemson has had at least one final top-25 ranking in 15 of Head Coach Jack Leggett’s first 18 seasons in Tigertown. The Tigers have also been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the three major polls under Leggett. Their last #1 ranking came on February 12, 2007 by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

Leggett Leading a Consistent Winner

Head Coach Jack Leggett has an 812-376-1 (.683) record at Clemson in his 19th season. The late Bill Wilhelm has the most wins of any Tiger coach with 1,161 in 36 seasons (1958-93) at Clemson. Leggett’s 812 wins are second-most in school history. No other Clemson coach has more than 70 wins while in Tigertown. Leggett earned win #800 as the leader of the Tiger program in Clemson’s 12-0 victory over Gardner-Webb in the second game of a doubleheader on May 7, 2011.

Through Leggett’s first 18 seasons at Clemson, he had 812 wins. Only five other programs (Florida State, Wichita State, Rice, Cal State Fullerton, Miami (FL)) had more wins over that span from 1994-11.

What makes Leggett’s win total even more impressive is the fact that he has not shied away from playing stiff competition. Since 2004, when the strength of schedule ratings were first kept at WarrenNolan.com, Clemson’s strength of schedule has been one of the 17 toughest in the nation each of the last eight seasons, including seven of the eight years with a strength of schedule #9 or better (2004 (#5), 2005 (#4), 2006 (#1), 2007 (#17), 2008 (#2), 2009 (#9), 2010 (#5), 2011 (#6)).

Leggett 15th on All-Time NCAA Wins List

Jack Leggett has 1,189 career wins in 32 seasons as a head coach. That victory total is 15th on the all-time NCAA Division I list. Leggett passed the late Bill Wilhelm, who is tied for 18th place with 1,161 wins in 36 seasons (1958-93) as Clemson’s head coach, on April 6, 2011 in the Tigers’ 12-3 win over Western Carolina. Leggett is also sixth in wins among active coaches.

Haselden in Control

Senior righthander David Haselden (Spartanburg, SC) has been both a starter and reliever in his four seasons at Clemson. In both cases, he has shown outstanding control, as he is in the top 10 in Tiger history in career strikeout-to-walk ratio and career walks per nine innings pitched.

In 135.1 innings pitched over 54 appearances (seven starts) in his career, he is 11-5 with five saves, a 3.26 ERA and 94 strikeouts against only 28 walks. His 3.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio is sixth-best in school history, while his 1.86 walks per nine innings pitched mark is second-best.

Four Tigers Share Captain Title

Four Tigers were selected as team captains, as voted on by the players, prior to the 2012 season. Junior righthander Dominic Leone, senior utility player Phil Pohl, junior infielder Richie Shaffer, and senior infielder Jason Stolz were all named captains. Pohl was a captain in 2011 as well.

Preseason Individual Honors

Several Tigers received accolades in the preseason. Below is a list of all Tigers who received preseason recognition.

#19 Kevin Brady, RHP

• #86 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• #95 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Perfect Game

• #42 college prospect for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• #39 junior in the nation by Baseball America

• #43 junior in the nation by Perfect Game

• #7 prospect in the ACC for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

#20 Scott FirthScott Firth
Jr. RH Pitcher
#20 6-0, 165
Buffalo Grove, IL

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, RHP

• #259 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Perfect Game

• #72 player in the nation by College Baseball Daily

• #73 college prospect for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• #12 prospect in the ACC for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

#23 Daniel Gossett, RHP

• #47 freshman in the nation by Baseball America

• #8 newcomer in the ACC by Baseball America

#29 David Haselden, RHP

• Second-team All-ACC by CollegeSportsMadness.com

#22 Spencer KieboomSpencer Kieboom
Jr. Catcher
#22 6-0, 220
Marietta, GA

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, C

• #467 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Perfect Game

• #84 college prospect for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• #14 prospect in the ACC for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

#6 Dominic Leone, RHP

• #179 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Perfect Game

• #83 junior in the nation by Perfect Game

#9 Phil Pohl, C/1B/OF

• First-team All-ACC by CollegeSportsMadness.com

#21 Kevin PohleKevin Pohle
So. RH Pitcher
#21 6-3, 180
St. Louis, MO

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, RHP

• #98 sophomore in the nation by Perfect Game

#8 Richie Shaffer, 3B/1B

• #26 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• #26 overall prospect for the 2012 draft by Perfect Game

• #12 player in the nation by College Baseball Daily

• #14 college prospect for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• #10 junior in the nation by Perfect Game

• #13 junior in the nation by Baseball America

• #2 prospect in the ACC for the 2012 draft by Baseball America

• First-team All-American by Baseball America

• Second-team All-American by Perfect Game

• ACC Player-of-the-Year by Baseball America

• First-team All-ACC by CollegeSportsMadness.com

#2 Jason Stolz, INF

• #92 senior in the nation by Perfect Game

#17 Steve WilkersonSteve Wilkerson
So. Infielder
#17 6-1, 185
Roswell, GA

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, 2B/SS

• #96 sophomore in the nation by Perfect Game

• #9 prospect in the ACC for the 2013 draft by Baseball America

Future ACC Tournament Sites

The 2012 ACC Tournament will be played at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, NC, where it was played for the first time in 2010. The 2013 ACC Tournament will return to Durham, NC, where it has been held seven times. Locations for the tournament after the 2013 season have yet to be determined.

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