Tigers are relaxed, having fun

CLEMSON — As the media surrounded Clemson coach Jack Leggett Wednesday afternoon, senior pitcher Matt Vaughn put down his baseball glove and borrowed a pen and notepad from a sportswriter so he could take notes on what his head coach was saying.

"They were good (notes)," Vaughn said with a smile moments later.

Vaughn, who sealed the deal for Clemson's fourth super regional in five years Monday night, represented the state of the Clemson baseball team as it heads to Arizona State (47-12) for a best of three series in Tempe, Ariz., which starts this Saturday at 9 p.m.

Simply put, the Tigers are as loose as they have been at any point this season and doing what's important in any sport, especially baseball — they're having fun.

"Back in '06 and '07, we had a bunch of really, really good players and a bunch of first and second rounders and stuff like that," he said. "But this year's group, and who knows what the young guys will do after this season, but for us seniors and juniors, we just kind of fly under the radar and have just as much fun as possible.

"There is really not as much pressure for us to perform because we are really not the guys Baseball America has in the top 100. We are just guys that like to have a good time."

The Tigers (44-20) are having a great time, especially after Monday's 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Oklahoma State to win the Clemson Regional.

"You have to enjoy this experience as much as possible," Vaughn said. "Playing here, we kind of get spoiled because we are supposed to be here, but last year we didn't go. So we have to enjoy this because you don't know when you will get a chance to do these things, especially for me because every game could be my last.

"You learn to appreciate it. I told the other guys not to take it for granted because this is a special time and they really should enjoy it."

The game plan for the Tigers when they get out to Tempe is simple, just grip it and rip it.

"This is a business trip for us because there are some things we want to accomplish," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said. "We want to be loose and relaxed. We are a little bit of the underdog here which is kind of a good role to go in to.

"They have had some great success at home. They have had some success when they have pitched those two front line guys that they have, but we hope the magnitude of the game, the atmosphere and we rise to the occasion a little bit and hopefully they are off their game a little bit. Maybe we can put some pressure on them."

Leggett admits that his players are probably a little more relaxed than he is at this point, but he says that's the way he would prefer it. After losing to Oklahoma State last Saturday night, his players came out Sunday relaxed and played like they were having a lot of fun.

Subsequently, they rolled to 10-0 and 15-1 wins over Tennessee Tech and Oklahoma State to advance to the championship round. They then continued to play loose and ultimately rallied to beat the Cowboys for a second time to advance.

"Our players have a pretty good handle on it," Leggett said. "I think we were a little bit wound up before that first ballgame against Tennessee Tech, but I think the experience of the regional and playing in the five games was a big thing for us.

"Now I think we're able to put things in a little bit better perspective so I think they will be ready to play. I think we just have to relax and go out and do our thing."

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