Relaxed Leggett, Tigers hit Omaha

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson head coach Jack Leggett during Friday's press conference.

OMAHA – Clemson head coach Jack Leggett and the other three coaches in Clemson’s bracket met with the media inside of the Hall of Fame Room at Rosenblatt Stadium just before lunch on Friday, and a relaxed Leggett said the fact that his entire team is playing loose is one of the major factors in the Tigers” 12th College World Series appearance.

“Since we hit that stretch in the middle of the season where we didn’t play very well, we have been a relaxed and loose baseball team,” Leggett said. “This is different from when we were here before, and a top seed, and you have that pressure on you to perform. There is a burden with that, and the expectation levels are high. Then you get a kid that gets nervous and it doesn’t work out so well.”

Arizona St. head coach Tim Esmay, who faces the Tigers at 7 p.m. on Sunday, said this version of Leggett’s Tigers indeed looks different than the team that his Sun Devils knocked out in two games last season in the Super Regional.

“They just look different, they look older,” Esmay said after the press conference. “When we looked at them on film, we could tell that this is a better team in a lot of ways than the one we played last year. Their hitters are older, and they have a lot more at-bats under their belt. They can hit with anybody in the country, and you can tell they have a lot of confidence right now. They are going to be a challenge for us.”

Leggett announced during the press conference that left-hander Casey Harman will start for his club, and he will face off against ASU’s Seth Blair, who is 12-0 with a 3.35 ERA in 102 innings pitched. Harman is 7-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 109 innings pitched.

Leggett said that facing a great pitcher is nothing new for the Tigers, and they won’t be intimidated by an undefeated Blair

“We faced the guy from Southern Miss in the Auburn regional who was 11-0, and then we faced a guy from Alabama who had pitched three complete games in a row,” Leggett said. “We faced the guy from Florida Gulf Coast who was the number one left-hander in the draft. We faced Matt Harvey. We have seen good pitching.

“We know Blair is a good pitcher, and perhaps the most important thing is that a good baseball team plays behind him. We know the challenge ahead of us. We just have to relax and loosen up and take the same approach that we took against those other guys and maybe we can make it hard on him.”

Leggett said his team has had their share of opposition this season, including losing 15 out of 24 games in a middle-season stretch, and said that overcoming that adversity has helped his Tigers in the post-season.

“The loss to Auburn where we lost 11-10, that was tough,” Leggett said of the loss to Auburn in the regionals. “We immediately got them together and told them to put it behind them. We told them to just stay positive and to not take that game on the bus with them. Then the first game against Alabama [in the Super Regional], we hit into double plays, and it was just frustrating.

“We drew from our experience at Auburn at that point and put it behind us, and said we had to win two in a row. We told them to just keep their heads in the game, and stay confident. This team has been a work in progress. Even when we were struggling, I still knew we would get to Omaha, and that this lineup would come together. I realized that the more relaxed they are, the better they play. So now we just let them go out there and play the game, enjoy it, and play hard.”

USC's Ray Tanner and Clemson's Jack Leggett during today's CWS press conference

Jack Leggett and the other three coaches in Clemson’s bracket meet with the media

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