Keeping their focus

CLEMSON - If Clemson is to make a second-straight trip to Omaha, their return could very well include a stop through Columbia.

Regional wins by Clemson and South Carolina would setup a best-of-three series for the right to play in the College World Series. After Monday's tournament selection show, any and all efforts to talk about another round with the rival Gamecocks were quickly thwarted.

"I just think--the Super Regional--that's not even out there really…we have Sacred Heart first," said third baseman John Hinson. "That's the one and only game in our season.

"To us, there's no game after that. The only thing we are doing is concentrating on them."

Surely there are a few orange-clad faithful that have already started to look beyond the Pioneers, Chanticleers and Huskies.

Not only could Clemson soothe the sting of this season's 1-2 record against South Carolina, but it could also help mend the deep wound suffered in last year's College World Series.

After winning their first two games in Omaha, the Tigers needed one more for a spot in the best-of-three championship series. But back-to-back defeats by the Gamecocks brought an end to their run in 2010.

Plenty of drama ensued in this year's extended-weekend series with the defending national champions.

Clemson head coach Jack Leggett wondered if Ray Tanner's club used artificial heaters for their bats.

Utility player Will Lamb told members of the media that South Carolina pitcher Tyler Webb was "soft".

The three-game, five-day showdown ended with an emotional press conference rant from Tanner, who was far from pleased with the events that overshadowed the series' result.

A day later, the coaches supposedly settled their differences over the phone.

Though shortstop Brad Miller acknowledged what a potential shot at redemption would mean to Clemson fans, he insisted that his thoughts were elsewhere.

"Us players, we're focused on taking care of our business and letting the chips fall where they may," he said. "It's two great programs and obviously great places to host regionals. It will be exciting weekends for both of us."

Plus, South Carolina hosts a regional that includes Stetson, N.C. State and Georgia Southern. Even the defending national champions are no shoe-in for the Super Regional.

"Everybody can watch the scoreboard or do whatever they want to do. If that works out, great," Leggett said. "But my focus is on Sacred Heart and this regional." Top Stories