Believe it or not, Clemson baseball is just around the corner.
It won't be long until the Tigers are once again battling it out against some of the top teams in the nation to see who gets the chance to go to the College World Series in Omaha early this summer.
For head coach Jack Leggett, 2004 represents another year to continue his unparalleled run of success as the Tigers' head man.
In his 10 years in Clemson, Leggett has amassed 473 wins and reached the College World Series four times. In addition, five of Leggett's ten seasons have seen the Tigers finish in the top 10 of all three major polls.
This season, with his team being fueled by another strong recruiting class and a spot in the top 20 in most preseason polls, high expectations will be once again swirling around Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
"It is a huge disappointment if we don't get to Omaha," said Leggett in a recent interview with CUTigers.com. "We were disappointed coming off our finish last year."
"We had some very good moments last year and we had some great moments last year. But, we also had some very disappointing moments in my opinion. We've got to get back to Omaha and put ourselves in the position to have a chance to win the National Championship."
The Tigers have become nationally known as a baseball powerhouse, but last year was somewhat of a disappointment as the team never seemed to get on track en route to a 39-22 record.
It was the first time in 18 years that the Tigers failed to win 40 games.
The 2003 season came to an end with a resounding thud when the Tigers were shutout at Auburn, 15-0 in the Auburn Regional at Plainsman Park. It was the only time all season that the Tigers were shutout, and it also ended an 84-game streak in which Clemson scored at least one run.
Still, most experts are predicting great things for Clemson baseball in 2004, even with some key personnel losses.
"We lost some good kids from last year; there is no question about that," said Leggett. "Michael Johnson and Kyle Frank provided a great deal of leadership for us."
"But at the same time, we are excited about what this year's team brings. We may not have many big name players, but we may be better as a team. Our pitching will be a little stronger this year and we have got to find a few key replacements, but we should be a very good baseball team."
The Tigers 2003 recruiting class was ranked in the top 25 by most services, and a whole host of players will now be in the mix to help this team climb back to the top of the ACC.
"At first base Andy D'Alessio and Tyler Colvin are exciting young players," said Leggett. "And when those rankings come out, they don't know about some other great players like Travis Storrer who is a good looking left-handed hitter for us from junior college. Tony Sipp is a very exciting player that may pitch and play outfield for us."
"Some other pitchers are left-hander Aaron Eubanks. Some of the right-handed pitchers that are jumping out at us right now are Steven Faris and P.J. Zocchi. Those are two good-looking kids that are going to step in and help us out as freshmen."
And don't forget about Brad McCann. The junior third baseman was named a preseason Second-Team All-American by Baseball America. McCann will be the returning team leader in homeruns (9), RBIs (67), and batting average (.347) in 2004.
The Tigers' first game of the 2004 season will be February 24th against Charlotte at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
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