On fire

CLEMSON - On the first weekend of March, Richie Shaffer lit up the South Carolina pitching staff like a Christmas tree.

The two-time defending national champions sported a 0.86 ERA and .112 opponents' batting average before series with an incredible 0.86 ERA and .112 opponents' batting average. Shaffer went 6-for-9 with two homers, two doubles, four RBI, six runs and six walks against the Gamecocks.

He was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday.

"I expect to play like that every weekend. Obviously, you don't, but that's what I expect," Shaffer said after the 6-5 Sunday win. "I put the work in just like everyone else does, to perform at a high level.

"I don't expect anything else besides excellence. I know the rest of the team doesn't either."

A 25th round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C., Shaffer certainly was excellent this past weekend. He reached base in 12 of his 15 plate appearances this weekend. His .800 on-base percentage and 1.556 slugging percentage made for an OPS of 2.356.

For his performance, Shaffer received the Bob Bradley Award, which goes to the most valuable player for Clemson during the three-game series with South Carolina.

"Richie had a really good weekend for us. Every time he came up to the plate he was dangerous. [He] got some big hits," said Clemson head coach Jack Leggett. "He was in the zone all weekend, and quite deserving of [the award]."

Not bad for a guy who's status was questionable in the days leading up to the series. Shaffer's status for the three-game showdown was questionable because of a groin injury he suffered in the final game against Maine.

Nine games into the season, Shaffer is now hitting .452 with four homers, four doubles, 12 RBI, 12 runs, 10 walks, a .585 on-base percentage and a .968 slugging percentage.

A career .308 hitter during his Clemson career, Shaffer credits the early season success to patience and tutoring sessions with assistant coaches Michael Johnson and Bradley LeCroy.

"I got a little too anxious and would chase [bad pitches] some times. I thought I had to hit every pitch thrown," Shaffer said. "It's kind of taken a while. I've been talking a lot to M.J. and LeCroy. I've gotten the most out of it. It's really helped me kind of see the ball [in] a lot deeper [counts], and to be able to take pitches that I would chase in the past."

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