The 2005 baseball season came to an end Monday with a 6-1 loss to Baylor. The Tigers finished the season with a record of 43-23 and 27 outs shy of Omaha. Although it is always disappointing to not be playing in Omaha, the 2005 season is definitely one to be proud of.
Three true freshmen started on opening day for the Tigers. The season started off shaky falling to Coastal Carolina and East Carolina. Freshman center fielder Brad Chalk just looked overwhelmed at the start. He did not look like the player that would end the season with the team?s highest batting average.
Despite being very young, Head Coach Jack Leggett stood by his normal scheduling methods. The Tigers faced challenges very early against NCAA tournament teams Auburn, Winthrop, arch-rival South Carolina, and the aforementioned Coastal Carolina and East Carolina. The season looked bleak as the Tigers struggled to a 5-7 start.
Signs of life began to show in the opener of ACC play. Despite losing the opener, the Tigers battled back to win the series from North Carolina, who was ranked ninth at the time. The Tigers won 8 of 10 starting with the UNC series.
The team then hit a road block in Tallahassee. The series opener was rained out, and FSU decided to play a doubleheader on Sunday instead of trying to work two games in on Saturday. The Tigers lost two of three, and they did not recover in time as they were swept by a struggling Georgia team in two mid-week games.
As what became known as a recurring theme later in the season, the Tigers bounced back. The Tigers won their next seven games, including a win over South Carolina 12-2. It was one week later that Clemson broke South Carolina?s heart. Down 4-3 heading to the ninth inning on the road, the Tigers did not even blink. After the scored was tied up at 4-4, Kris Harvey hit a three run home run that propelled the two rivals in opposite directions.
Despite dropping two ACC series in a row against NC State and Georgia Tech, Coach Leggett continued to preach to his young team they could still host a regional. While many believed Coach Leggett to be crazy, his team did not. The Tigers went 9-1 over the final 10 games of the regular season. It was a sweep over the Miami Hurricanes that pushed the Tigers into second place in the ACC standings. The club was selected to finish fifth in the conference by the media in the pre-season.
The Tigers picked up two more wins in the ACC tournament, including a fourth win over Miami, but fell short by losing two to Virginia.
By winning 8 of their last 10, the Tigers were rewarded by being selected as a host for first round of the NCAA tournament. It was a feat many believed was a year ahead of schedule. The Tigers breezed through the regional winning three straight games to advance to the Super Regionals against Baylor in Waco, Texas.
Once again, the young ball club appeared ready to defy the odds after taking game one against Baylor. Baylor found an answer for the Tigers bats in the final two games, putting an end to the 2005 season.
The Tigers will likely lose veterans Harvey and Robert Rohrbaugh, but everyone returns in the field and you have four legitimate weekend starters returning in Faris, Josh Cribb, Jason Berken, and David Kopp. It is shaping up to be perhaps, Coach Leggett?s most balanced and talented team for next season.
Coach Leggett?s 2005 club gave the fans a rejuvenated attitude towards the program. Now the talk of Leggett being on the preverbial hot seat has faded, and fans have their sites set towards Omaha in 2006.