Slow start, strong finish

CLEMSON - In the moments before depositing a first pitch fastball in the leftfield seats, Shane Kennedy wasn't thinking long ball.

By then, Kennedy didn't care what his first career Clemson hit was. He just wanted to make contact.

"Honestly, we needed base runners. It was coming down to the last inning. We needed people on," Kennedy said. "Stevie [Wilkerson] did a great job by getting on. I was just trying to put a ball in play and see what happened."

What happened was a two-out, eighth inning homer off Brett Koehler. Clemson held on to the 2-0 lead for a season-opening win over William & Mary at Kingsmore Stadium.

During preseason interviews, Jack Leggett spoke of the power Kennedy would add to the Clemson lineup.

"He was swinging a little uphill in the first few at-bats," Leggett said. "He flattened that one out a little bit. If he can learn to do that and stay consistent with that, hit some balls with backspin, he'll hit a few more of those."

A freshman All-American at North Florida and a junior college All-American last year at Santa Fe College, Kennedy found himself in the cleanup spot as the designated hitter on Friday.

"I know they were expecting some things out of me. I struggled my first three at-bats. I tried to just settle down. I knew it was opening day, so I just tried to make contact," Kennedy said.

Goose goes 6 2/3…

"It's good to have a little confidence now. I have the first one under my belt, now I can just go from there." - Daniel Gossett

"I like what I saw. I was thinking five innings, but he was throwing a lot of strikes, so his pitch count didn't get up there. I was really pleased with the way he pitched today." - Leggett

"The change-up was working good. The slider wasn't exactly where I wanted it, but coach [Dan Pepicelli understood that. He can make pitch calling to compensate with that. But I was getting my change-up working today." - Gossett

"It was just about time to get him out of there. He probably could have finished, because he was in great shape. But it's early in the season. It was time to see some other guys do what they could do in a game that meant something, with a score that was close." - Leggett

More from Jack…

"We played really good defense, turned a double-play when we had to. We did everything we had to do on the pitching and defensive side of things. Joe [Moorefield] came in and did his thing, then Clay Bates and Matt Campbell at the end.

"Offensively, we just couldn't get anything going. Their kid did a good job. He was throwing fastball, change-up, keeping us off balance -- senior pitcher. He's been around the block, could kind of feel it coming, got a little anxious, hitting a little too many balls in the air."

"We just weren't able to build many innings and get our leadoff man on, bunt some guys around, run at all. We couldn't get much going there. We couldn't get many base runners in the right situations to steal some bases. We were kind of feeling our way through the ball game. Luckily, our pitching and defense helped us." Top Stories