Harman gets the nod

TEMPE, Ariz. — Casey Harman likes a real good challenge and Saturday night he will get his toughest to date.

Clemson coach Jack Leggett announced to the media after Friday's practice that the lefty will get the start in Game 1 of the Tempe (Ariz.) Super Regional, which starts at 9 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). It's a big challenge for the sophomore considering he will be up against the nation's best pitcher in Arizona State's Mike Leake.

"It puts a little bit of pressure on us (to perform)," Harman said. "But we have done a good job stepping up and competing against good pitchers. I'm going to go out there every inning and try to give up the least amount of runs as I can.

"I'm just hoping my team can go out there and put up some runs, which I know they will."

That will be tough for them to do. A right-hander, Leake has thrown 143 strikeouts this year with an earned run average of 1.23. He is 15-1 as a starter this season.

"Every report that we get on him says he is as good as his statistics tell us," Leggett said.

Harman's are not so bad either. The sophomore has a 7-3 record with a 3.78 ERA and has 85 strikeouts to 14 walks. In his last two outings, Harman has been almost flawless.

Against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, he went 7.1 innings, while allowing just two runs off seven hits and striking out 10 Tar Heel batters. In the Clemson Regional versus Oklahoma State, he gave up just two runs again, this time off three hits, while fanning eight batters.

Combined, he issued just three walks in both games.

"I'm building up my confidence," Harman said. "They have been throwing me out there more consistently now as a starter so I'm just going out there trying to do my best. I'm going after all the best hitters and trying to stay ahead of them and things have been working out for me."

That's why Leggett is throwing him out there tonight, that and the fact the Sun Devils start a lineup filled with left-hand batters.

"He is our most consistent pitcher lately, and they have about four or five lefties in the lineup so we are just hoping that he can go out and do his thing," Leggett said.

By the way, Arizona State (47-12) is 13-1 against lefties.

Parker will start. After driving in the game-winning run this past Monday night to beat Oklahoma State, Kyle Parker will start tonight's Super Regional game. He did not start the previous two games in the Clemson Regional.

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