Leggett previews South Carolina

CLEMSON - Jack Leggett looks ahead to this weekend's series with South Carolina, the future of the rivalry and more.

What have you seen so far from your team that gives you confidence going into this weekend?
Leggett: I've seen some good things from our team, to be honest with you. We're still young, making some mistakes here and there. I like the defense that we're playing. I like the way we've pitched. Our starting pitching and relief pitching has been pretty good. Our ability to make big plays and turn the double-play over has been a big thing for us. We've just got to get our offense a little more consistent. We've got to get more guys in the order swinging the bat. We've got to get some big hits in big situations. I think anybody would tell you, if that falls into place then your team is always better. We've got t a little ways to go that way, but I've seen the potential of it. We've got to put it together more consistently.

Is it going to be a little strange in pre-game and not see Ray [Tanner] across from you?
Leggett: I guess it might be a little different. He's on to new challenges, on to new things. The game changes like that. I've been around long enough, so I've seen a lot of big fishes come and go. But it'll still be a big challenge. It's still just two teams playing. That's really what this is all about.

How much do you know of Chad [Holbrook] and what kind of a coach he is?
Leggett: I've known him for a long period of time. He's a tireless recruiter and he's got a good baseball mind. He works hard at it. So I'm sure he'll continue to do what they're doing down there. It'll be a big challenge for us every time we play them.

Is this series too early in the year?
Leggett: There's just no other time to play it. That's the thing with our conference schedule and their conference schedule. It's got to get done here. The big part is, you get it done and over with, the best you can with it, and you continue to get your confidence going on both sides of the coin. We've got a lot of things to worry about in our own conference. It's really the only time we can fit it into our schedules.

Does the rivalry change the way you approach things with your team?
Leggett: I would say, not much. It means a lot to our team, our program, the fans -- it means a lot to everybody. It would be misleading to tell you that it'll make or break what this season is all about, on either side. I think they would tell you the same thing. We've got a long season to go -- 48 more games, or whatever we have left. We want to try to put ourselves in position to host Regionals, Super Regionals, go to Omaha and play for the National Championship, all those kinds of things. We want to win those games, obviously, because they help you get to that point, and because it's a big rival. We both want to kick each other's rear end. That's what this rivalry is all about. We'll be out there playing hard. We'll be doing everything we possibly can to win the ball games. I'm sure they'll do the same things.

How has their club changed since last year?
Leggett: I haven't seen them a whole lot yet. I've just watched a little bit of their tape, followed their games. They're probably a little bit like us, lost some offensive players. At the same time, they always pitch well. They've got some different components on the defense. They're good behind the plate, have a little bit of team speed, some of the same characteristics that we have. So I think we're pretty similar teams, as we stand right now. Hopefully, our team will mature and get better as the season goes along.

How much is this series a measuring stick for this season?
Leggett: It gives us a little bit of an idea. We've played some good teams recently since the beginning of the season. I know they have as well. There's a lot of parity in college baseball, a lot of close games that can swing either way. This one will give us an indication of where we stand, a little bit better. I think it'll be the same for them.

What have you learned about playing the series in this format?
Leggett: It involves a lot of logistical challenges…I would say it's a good thing. It's a good thing for the state. It's a good thing for the fans. It's exciting. It brings it to Greenville. It's a great venue. It takes one of the games down to Columbia and one up here. It's really the only thing we can do, the best we can do with the schedules that we have.

How much does it help to have two pitchers like [Daniel] Gossett and Scotty [Firth] that have pitched in this game and know what it's like to pitch against Carolina in these situations?
Leggett: It helps a lot. They also have the same thing. They've got [Jordan] Montgomery and Colby Holmes, who've pitched in these situations. It helps us to know we've got a couple of guys that have been there before, and I'm sure it helps them to know they've got some veteran guys going out there on the mound for them. So I'd say things are fairly equal that way, in terms of experience. Now, it's a matter of which teams and which players can step up and show who their baseball players are.

Do you guys want to keep the format the same, taking it to different cities in the state?
Leggett: Oh, boy. I think Greenville is a great matchup for us, to be honest with you, because it's halfway between the schools, pretty much. I think it's a great venue. We did some good things in Charleston last year, it's just a little tough on weekend travel. That ought to be considered. We'll see where it goes. The Greenville Drive people do a great job. They did a great job in Charleston last year.

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