Young Guns

CLEMSON – Back when fall baseball practice first began, freshmen roommates Taylor Harbin and Stan Widmann each pictured themselves as the new starting shortstop for Clemson. That obviously wasn't going to happen. Only one of them could actually do so.

So after a little conversation with head coach Jack Leggett, Harbin tried his skills at third and second base. It wasn't too long until he found a home at second, and the rest as they say is history.

What started out as a fierce battle for one spot has turned into one of the best up-the-middle combinations in the ACC and very likely the best freshmen pair at those positions in the entire country.

"Widmann and Harbin are a cut above anything I've seen as freshmen," Leggett said. "They've got good instincts, great work habits, great athletic ability, the ability to improvise and make something out of nothing and they have a penchant for making great plays, yet they're very consistent."

Had Harbin fought the move and only wanted to play at shortstop, it could have been a very sticky situation. Instead, he couldn't be happier with the switch.

"Starting off the year, we were both competing for the same spot and trying to work as hard as we could," Harbin said. "With both of us being shortstops, that's where we both wanted to play. But as fall progressed, we started to realize that both of us weren't going to be able to start there, so I started looking around and trying other positions. Once I started going to second, I really liked the way he played and I thought us together up the middle could be a good thing.

"And with us being roommates, we just started working together and started talking about different stuff and we really got the feel for each other as the fall ended. Right from the start of spring, we started talking together before practice and after practice about different situations that could come up in a game and how we would handle it."

That comfortable feel for one another definitely shows. Harbin has committed an astonishingly low four errors and Widmann has committed only 16 errors, a low number for shortstops. Only N.C. State and Virginia have committed fewer errors at those positions, and the Wolfpack duo has played fewer games together. Harbin and Widmann have started every single game.

"Widmann and Harbin are a cut above anything I've seen as freshmen," Clemson head coach Jack Leggett said.
"I consider Taylor a quick learner and I consider myself a quick learner, so it didn't take us but maybe a couple of practices to be on the same page," Widmann said. "Every game we're learning something new about each other."

And what may be most remarkable is the fact that prior to this year, Harbin had never played anywhere other than shortstop.

"It was kind of difficult just because of the different speeds of the ball and the different hops," Harbin said. "You have more time at second with the runners. It was an adjustment, but it was good adjustment. I really have come to love playing second base."

The quickness in which Harbin adjusted to the new position even amazes Leggett.

"It was pretty quick. He's got natural instincts that are hard to teach. He's got some savvy," Leggett said. "How he developed it on his own, I don't know. He doesn't come from a huge town or a huge baseball area like Atlanta where you play 100 games in the summertime. Some how along the way, that kid as picked up some things that are very tough to teach. He's a very, very smart baseball player. …

"Those guys work extremely hard up the middle, their good friends and they look like they've been working together for a long period of time, so it's an exciting future."

NOTE: The Tigers are going to be a little shorthanded this weekend against Wake Forest as pitcher Jeff Hahn, catcher Gene Pierce and infielder Daniel Pritchard will miss Friday's game due to graduation. They will join the team in Winston-Salem and be available Saturday and Sunday.

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