Tigers Aim High

CLEMSON - Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett looked like a kid who had just learned he was going to Disney World Thursday. With a smile that was grinning from ear-to-ear, Clemson's veteran coach seemed more than willing to take the media's best shots at the Tigers' annul media day gathering.

"I have been doing this 33 years and every year I feel like a little kid," Leggett said. "Every year I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder and that we have something to prove.

"I want to compete and hopefully that enthusiasm (goes through) our players because they look to you when things are going great and when things aren't going so good."

Things are going good for the Tigers this preseason. Clemson is already a preseason favorite to make it back to Omaha for the College World Series, and is a preseason No. 2 pick by Collegiate Baseball and No. 3 by Baseball America.

"I told the players there is no where to go but up," Leggett said. "I don't put too much stock in (polls) because there where years when we were ranked higher and I thought we should've been lower and there were years when we were ranked lower and we should've been ranked higher… Whether it is right or wrong? We will figure that out before the end of the season."

Clemson first baseman Andy D'Alessio figured out what it takes while watching another baseball game after the Tigers clinched a spot in last year's CWS. He figured it our while watching the reaction of Oregon State when the Beavers punched their ticket to Omaha. Though they had just clinched a spot in the CWS for the second straight year, there was no dog piling like Clemson and the others who joined them in Omaha.

"They knew they were going and they knew what type of business it is," D'Alessio said.

Oregon State took its business approach mentality and walked away from Rosenblatt Stadium with the national championship.

"They were the only team returning to the College World Series last year. They knew what it was like to go out there. That's what we are shooting for too," he said. "None of us had ever been there until last year. We have experienced it. We know what it is about. Now we have to go out there and work hard everyday to get ourselves back out there."

The Tigers, who were 53-16 in 2006, will have to figure out a lot to get back there. The defending ACC Champions have to replace its entire weekend rotation and left fielder Tyler Colvin – last year's No. 13 overall pick by the Chicago Cubs in the Major League Draft to name a few.

Colvin led Clemson with a .356 batting average and 23 steals in 27 attempts. He also had 13 home runs, 70 RBIs and a slug percentage of .609. Like last year, D'Alessio, who hit .312 with a team-leading 85 RBIs and 23 home runs, will again be the Tigers power hitter, but he understands guys like second baseman Taylor Harbin (.319, 9 HR) and third baseman Marquez Smith (.291, 10 HR) have to step it up for him to continue to be productive.

"Those are guys that have good power and have a good opportunity to put up some home run numbers," he said.

D'Alessio turned down an opportunity to play at the pro level last summer after the Los Angles Dodgers drafted him in the 10th round of the Major League Draft. D'Alessio said Clemson's chances of getting back to Omaha played a major role in his decision to return for one more year.

"I would give up anything to go back to Omaha," he said. "It was by far the most exciting thing I have ever done in my life. I would give up all goals, personal recognition, and the records. I would give up everything just to go back out there."

Because of last year's experience and the fact they know what it is going to take to reach Omaha again, D'Alessio says the Tigers will not be happy just to get back.

"Everyone knows what it is like to go out there now," D'Alessio said. "There is nothing else you want to do than to go out there and dog pile in Omaha and grab that grass and say you are a national champion."

Projected lineup
Addison Johnson	        left field	Fr.
Brad Chalk		center field	Jr.
Taylor Harbin		second base	Jr.
Andy D'Alessio	        first base	Sr.
Marquez Smith	        third base	Sr.
Alex Burg		DH		So.
Stan Widmann		shortstop	Jr.
D.J. Mitchell		right field	So.
Doug Hogan		catcher		Jr.

Pitching (weekend rotation)
P.J. Zocchi		RHP		Jr.
David Kopp		RHP		Jr.
Ryan Hinson		LHP		So.

Closer
Daniel Moskos	        LHP		Jr.

CUTigers.com Top Stories