Baseball Tigers Excited About 2005

The Clemson baseball team would have been hard pressed to pick a better day than Friday to have their first baseball practice of the 2005 season.<BR>

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It was bright, sunny and relatively warm for a late January day, but the best of parts were the sounds from the balls hitting the aluminum bats and the quick pop of gloves and they hauled in throws.

"I'm just excited about the year as always," Tigers coach Jack Leggett said. "We've got a good bunch of young kids and a good group of veterans on this team.

"I'm always excited about the first day of practice. This is what I live for."

One of the more prominent newcomers for Clemson, which is ranked No. 23 in the Preseason ESPN Coaches' Poll, is utility infielder and Travelers Rest native Taylor Harbin, who is the all-time South Carolina high school home run leader with 52.

But don't expect him to put up those same types of power numbers as a member of the Tigers.

"That's not going to be my emphasis," Harbin said. "I'm just going to try and come out and hit line drives and just hit for average."

And that seems to be the mantra for just about nearly all of the Clemson hitters, which means there aren't going to be many three-run homers this year.

Outfielder Travis Storrer and pitcher and designated hitter Kris Harvey are the two returning players with the most power. However, neither hit more than eight home runs last year.

"We don't have as much power maybe as we've had in the past, so we're going to have to do a lot of little things really well," Leggett said.

"And that is play defense and pitch, and we're going to have to be fundamentally sound and we're going to have to be able to push the ball around and execute on offense – bunt; the hit-and-run; hit the ball to the right side with a man on second; the infield back with a man on third, gotta get a ground ball.

"We can't strikeout and we can't try to use the long game so much. But I think we can be a very exciting team offensively though, despite not having the home runs."

On the mound, the Tigers seem set with their top two starters in Robert Rohrbaugh (4-5, 3.99 ERA) and Josh Cribb (5-1, 3.71 ERA), but with Jason Berken (5-1, 2.53 ERA) out for the season following "Tommy John" surgery on his elbow, that very important third weekend starter is a long way from being determined.

"We've got some good arms, but we've just got to piece them all together," Leggett said. "We've got more lefthanders than we've had in the past and that was one area we tried to improve upon."

Because of the loss of power and the uncertainty on the mound, the Tigers find themselves at the bottom of most top 25 polls. Even so, the players and coaches expect nothing short than a trip to College World Series.

"It's been too long since we've been there," Harvey said. "Clemson baseball is a traditional power and that's where we belong." Top Stories