"We needed that big start last week, just so he can get a feel for what it's like to play these kinds of teams," Garrett Boulware said. "I have a lot of confidence in him. He's been throwing well and working hard. I think we'll get a good start out of him [Friday]."
Jack Leggett got 15 mostly solid appearances in relief from Erwin before he called on the freshman to make his first collegiate start.
"We built his maturity and confidence level up, so he was doing that, doing a real good job in relief," Leggett said.
Friday's 1 o'clock showdown with Liberty will be the sixth time Erwin has started this season. So far, he's 5-1 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 21 appearances.
"He's pitched well for us," Leggett said. "He's deceptive. He's got feel of the breaking ball, changeup [and] fastball. He holds runners on pretty well, which is a good thing [for] tomorrow. He does a nice job for us.
"He doesn't get hit a lot. When he gets into trouble, it's usually because he causes his own trouble, maybe walking a guy. He's got to throw strikes and let us play behind him."
The other freshman LHP…Leggett told reporters earlier in the week that he believes Matthew Crownover might be ready to pitch this weekend. Keeping his cards close to the vest on Thursday, Leggett didn't give a definitive weekend plan for Crownover.
"I think he's moving in the right direction to throw. His arm is feeling better," Leggett said. "I think we did the right thing last week, keeping him out."
Crownover experienced tightness in his forearm after 4 1/3 innings against Florida State in the final series of the regular season. Because of that, he was sidelined for the ACC Tournament.
"I would have loved to have had the chance to use him if he had been healthy, keeping him in that rhythm. He's the kind of guy that's got to be right on his game to be effective," Leggett said. "The week off my affect him a little bit, but he's got enough touch and feel, competitive juices to figure out a way to make it work for himself, if we have to get an opportunity to use him this weekend. I think he'll be ready to go."
No overlooking Liberty…While the outsiders looking in on the Columbia Regional might be focused on a potential Saturday night match up of Clemson and South Carolina, the Tigers aren't looking past Friday.
Big South champion Liberty enters with a 34-27 record and winners of their last five games.
"Any team can play with any team in the country," Boulware said. "It's not so much them as it is us. We don't want to over look them.
"We're here because we're in Columbia and it's South Carolina, obviously. But they're a good team. That's our next opponent. We're just trying to focus on them. We know they can beat us if we're not playing as hard as we can."