Tigers have championship dreams

CLEMSON - After last year's deep run in the College World Series, just getting to Omaha won't be good enough this time around.

ACC Player of the Year Brad Miller, who's sixth in the country with a .431 batting average, is one of several veteran Tigers back from last year's squad.

"We realize what it takes to get to Omaha," he said, after the other three teams for the Clemson Regional were announced on Monday. "I think the biggest thing after last year, getting to go to Omaha and be one of the final four teams--it's still not fun to come up short."

Head coach Jack Leggett said Tigers' first step in the tournament is not an easy one.

Clemson (41-18) will open regional play on Friday with Sacred Heart (34-21).

"We're just starting to find out [about Sacred Heart]," Leggett said. "Like I told our team, anybody at this time is a hot team. They've either played well all season long and deserve to be an at-large, or they've played well in their in tournament and won their tournament.

"There's a reason they put them in here. Everybody's playing well at this time of year. We'll go start to work on them right now."

Sacred Heart is 19th in the country with a team batting average of .312.

Senior leftfielder J.J. Edwards, is tops on the team in bating average (.380), hits (79) and runs (40). Junior first baseman Rob Griffith is first in homeruns (four), RBI (44) and slugging percentage (.485).

The Pioneers' 4.37 team ERA is 121st in the nation.

Sophomore right-hander Troy Scribner is 9-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 92-2/3 innings of work and leads all Pioneer hurlers with 44 strikeouts.

Sophomore right-hander John Hermanson is 6-1 with a 3.43 ERA. Of his 13 appearances, 10 have been in relief. Freshman lefty Nick Leiningen is 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA.

On the other side of the regional is Big East regular season title winner (No. 2) UConn and Big South champion (No. 3) Coastal Carolina.

The winner of the Clemson Regional will advance to play the winner of the Columbia Regional, which is hosted by national seed and defending National Champion South Carolina.

"Our job is to try to win this regional. We'll figure out what we've got to do next. If it works out, great," Leggett said. "My focus right now is on Sacred Heart on Friday--Connecticut and Coastal Carolina--trying to take care of this weekend. We'll worry about everything else after that."

In the meantime, Clemson's four-day layoff will allow second baseman Jason Stolz and pitcher Jonathan Meyer time to nurse their wounds.

"Meyer's knee cap is still a little sore and Stolz's finger is sore," Leggett said.

"[Kevin] Brady is fine, for what he's capable of giving us right now. It'll help give us a little bit of rest for [Stolz and Meyer], and a little bit of recovery time."

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