Tigers headed to Auburn

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CLEMSON – Next stop, Auburn.

The Field of 64 for the NCAA Baseball Tournament was announced Monday afternoon, and the Clemson Tigers learned that they will be in Auburn when play starts Friday. They are the No. 2 seed in the regional, behind Auburn, and will play No. 3 seed Southern Miss in their first game, which looks like it will be scheduled for 3 p.m. The other team in the regional is Jacksonville St.

The Tigers gathered together in the McFadden Auditorium to watch the show, on ESPN, and Kyle Parker said watching the show and realizing a chance to play in the College World Series is on the lines gets him pumped up.

“It’s going to be exciting, so it didn’t matter where we played,” Parker said. “I am sure Auburn has a good environment, and they will probably have a lot of people there, just like here. I am sure it is an exciting place to play and I am really looking forward to it.”

Parker then said he really he wasn’t familiar with the teams in the Tigers’ bracket, and that winning simply comes down to playing well.

“It is really important to go in there and win, and to do that we have to go on there and play baseball like we are capable of playing,” Parker said. “I don’t really know the other teams. I think Southern Miss went to Omaha last year, and I know Auburn hits the ball well. We just have to go down there and play well and pitch well and have a good approach at the plate.”

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said he looks forward to a very competitive regional.

“Auburn had a great run and won their division in the SEC,” Leggett said. “We know they are a very strong offensive team. We also know that Southern Miss has a traditionally strong program, and they always play everybody tough, so that will be a tough opening game for us. Jacksonville St. is also playing well, so we look at it as a very tough regional. We are just going to have to play well from beginning to end, and not just in spurts.”

Clemson’s regional is lined up with the Georgia Tech regional, meaning the winner of the Auburn regional will play the winner of the Georgia Tech regional, but Leggett said the Tigers can’t afford to look that far ahead.

“Whoever wins this regional has to go Georgia Tech or whoever wins that regional,” Leggett said. “Georgia Tech is very tough at home, and someone would have to go in there and play really well. Or it could be someone else, and we don’t know where that could be played right now. Our job is just to focus on Friday against Southern Miss and then figure out who we play Saturday. We just have to take one game at a time, and you can’t look too far forward because if you do that then you forget about Friday.”

The eight national seeds are Arizona St. [the No.1 national seed]. Texas, Florida, Coastal Carolina, Virginia, UCLA, Louisville and Georgia Tech.

There were some that expected Clemson could be in the Coastal Carolina bracket, to be played in Myrtle Beach, but the Coastal bracket includes Stony Brook, N.C. State and the College of Charleston.

Clemson is the #2 seed in the Auburn Regional. Auburn is the #1 seed, Southern Mississippi is the #3 seed, and Jacksonville State is the #4 seed. The regional will continue with two games on both Saturday and Sunday. The Monday game is an if-necessary game. The winner of the Auburn Regional is slated to play the winner of the Atlanta (GA) Regional the following weekend.

This will be Clemson’s second trip to Auburn for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers had a 1-2 record there in 2003, a loss to Ohio State, a win over Princeton, and a loss to Auburn. Clemson last played Auburn when the SEC Tigers defeated Clemson twice in a three-game series between March 4-6, 2005 at Auburn.

It will be the first of two trips for many Clemson fans to Auburn over the next four months. The Clemson football team will play at Auburn on September 18, 2010.

When Clemson meets Southern Mississippi on Friday, it will be the first meeting between the two schools on the diamond. Clemson has also not played Jacksonville State. The Tigers are 40-47-3 against Auburn all-time, including 16-28-3 in games against the Tigers at Auburn. The series dates to 1901, when John Heisman was Clemson's head baseball coach. Heisman actually coached baseball at Clemson and Auburn during his career.

This is Clemson’s 35th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, sixth-most in Division I baseball history. Only Texas, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma State, and Southern California have more. The latter two schools were not chosen for the NCAA Tournament this year. Clemson has a record of 101-73 in its 34 previous appearances.

This is the 23rd time in the last 24 years that Clemson has gone to the NCAA Tournament. It is the 16th selection in the 17 years Jack Leggett has guided the Tigers. Only Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, and Miami have more NCAA Tournament appearances than Clemson since Leggett became head coach of the Tigers in 1994.

Clemson has advanced to the College World Series 11 times in its history, including five times under Leggett. Clemson’s most recent appearance in Omaha came in 2006.

Clemson enters the NCAA Tournament with a 38-21 record. The Tigers won the ACC Atlantic Division Championship during the regular season. The Tigers have won 13 of their last 17 games entering the tournament, while their most-recent four victories have all come against top-10 teams, including a 9-3 win over #8 national-seed Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament on Saturday.

Clemson’s leader in terms of batting average is shortstop Brad Miller, a .373 hitter for his 58 games this year. He has seven home runs and 37 RBIs. Miller has been especially hot of late. Over his last 15 games, he is 30-for-57 (.533) with four homers, four doubles, two triples, 15 RBIs, 22 runs, an .877 slugging percentage, 10 walks, and a .588 on-base percentage.

First-Team All-ACC outfielder Kyle Parker is second on the team in batting average at .364, but he leads the club in home runs with 19, tied for first in the ACC. Parker also leads the club in slugging percentage at .709 and on-base percentage at .496. The starting quarterback on the Clemson football team in the fall of 2009, Parker became the first Division I athlete in history with at least 20 touchdown passes and 15 home runs in the same academic year.

Jeff Schaus, a First-Team All-ACC outfielder in 2009 and Second-Team selection in 2010, is second in the ACC in RBIs with 75 and is second on the team to Parker in home runs with 15. Second-baseman Mike Freeman is another solid player for the Tigers. The Second-Team All-ACC second-baseman has a .328 batting average along with seven home runs and 51 RBIs. He also leads the team in hits (81).

Third-baseman John Hinson has a .324 batting average and 12 home runs, while freshman first-baseman Richie Shaffer has a .333 batting average. Thus, all four Clemson starting infielders have at least a .320 batting average in 2010.

Leading the Tigers on the mound is Casey Harman. The junior lefthander has a 6-2 record with a 4.14 ERA, and he leads the team in strikeouts with 78 in 91.1 innings pitched. Scott Weismann has been the #2 starte all year and like Harman has 15 starts. Weisman is 6-2 with a 5.47 ERA.

Alex Frederick has a 6-2 record to tie for the team-lead in wins. He earned two wins over #8 Florida State in the last weekend of the regular season, the first pitcher in Clemson history to post two wins over top-10 teams in the same series.

Southern Mississippi has a 35-22 record, but the Eagles are coming off a Conference USA Tournament Championship. They took the title with a 7-4 win over Rice in Houston. Last year, Southern Mississippi reached the College World Series by winning regional tournaments at Georgia Tech and Florida. Southern Mississippi lost to Texas and North Carolina in the College World Series.

The Eagles, who are making their eighth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, are led in hitting by B.A. Vollmuth, a sophomore from Biloxi, MS who has a .378 batting average with a team-best 18 home runs and team-best 68 RBIs. He also ha a .716 slugging percentage.

Taylor Walker has a .365 batting average with seven home runs and 53 RBIs, while Adam Doleac, a hometown product from Hattiesburg, MS, has a .362 batting average with six home runs and 53 RBIs. Southern Mississippi has a team batting average of .323.

The top pitcher for Southern Mississippi is Scott Copeland, a senior righthander from White Oak, TX who has an 11-0 record with 66 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA in 90.2 innings pitched.

Auburn enters the NCAA Tournament with a 40-19 record. The Tigers are led by Head Coach John Pawlowski, a Clemson graduate in his second year with the SEC program. He coached as an assistant under Jack Leggett at Clemson from 1994-98, serving as pitching coach on Clemson’s 1995 and 1996 College World Series teams. Clemson's starting rotation of Kris Benson, Billy Koch, and Ken Vining all went on to play in the Major Leagues. Pawlowski, who played at Clemson from 1983-85, was the head coach at College of Charleston for nine years and took that program to the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years from 2004-06.

Auburn has 117 home runs and a .348 batting average. According to NCAA stats entering the conference tournament weekend, Auburn led the nation in home runs and was fourth in batting average. Hunter Morris leads the team with a .392 batting average along with 21 home runs and 70 RBIs.

Jacksonville State enters the NCAA Tournament with a 32-24 record. It is fresh off winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament with a 10-8 win over Tennessee Tech in the championship game. They have five players with double-digit home runs, led by Sam Eberle, who has 16.

Ticket Information

Tickets are now available on-line at AuburnTigers.com. Tickets may be ordered by phone at 1-800-AUB-1957 (ext. 1) or in person at the Auburn Athletic Ticket Office in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM CDT beginning Tuesday. Ticket prices are $75 for reserved all-session, $50 for terrace all-session, and $25 for student all-session.

Single-game tickets, if available, will go on sale Friday at 8:00 AM CDT. Individual game tickets will go on sale Friday and are $15 for reserved seats, $10 for Terrace Area, and $5 for college students with an ID.

Game times will be 3:00 PM EDT and 7:00 PM EDT on Friday and Saturday, 2:00 PM EDT and 6:00 PM EDT on Sunday, and 7:00 PM EDT on Monday (if necessary).

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