Road to Omaha begins in Auburn

Clemson's road to Omaha continues Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. with Southern Miss in the Auburn Regional of the NCAA Tournament at Plainsman Park.

Because of a shoulder injury against Florida State, outfielder Wilson Boyd only stepped on the field once in the ACC Tournament and that was as a pinch runner.

On Monday, when Clemson was announced as the No. 2 seed in the Auburn Regional, Boyd was confident his shoulder would be just fine by Friday.

"I just fell on it weird," he said. "It wasn't so much that I had pain in it. I just didn't have mobility. It wasn't at a place where I could help the team and contribute to the team as much as I needed to."

The senior from Hickory, N.C. is batting .295 with five homeruns and 41 RBI this season.

"I think I'm going to be ready for the weekend, ready to go," he said.

Ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation, Clemson (38-21) will play No. 3 seed Southern Miss. (35-22).

Hosting the regional, No. 1 seed Auburn (40-19), which is ranked as high as No. 14, plays No. 4 seed Jacksonville State (32-24) in the second of two games on Friday.

"It's kind of ironic how we're going to be up there in football season and then right now," said Kyle Parker, who may or may not travel back to Auburn this fall for the Tigers' clash on the gridiron.

"The biggest thing is we've got to take it one game at a time. We'll just get ready for them and see what happens."

As the tournament selection show played on Monday the Tigers could only scratch their head and wonder. For one, Florida State was the No. 1 seed in Connecticut and Clemson wasn't included in the Coastal Carolina region.

Regardless of the site, or opponents, every game is now a must win.

That starts with Southern Miss.

The Golden Eagles won the Conference USA Tournament with a 3-1 record to qualify for their eighth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. It was only two years ago Southern Miss reached the College World Series before losing to Texas and North Carolina.

"We know that Southern Miss, traditionally, is a very strong and storied program. They're tough. They always play everybody tough," Leggett said. "That's a very tough opening round game for us. Jacksonville State is playing well. I look at that as a very tough region."

Not to mention Auburn. Those Tigers are coached by former Clemson pitching coach and three-year letterman John Pawlowski.

"Auburn has a great team. They won their division in the SEC. We know they're a very strong offensive team," Leggett said. "They're coach now by John Pawlowski—it'll be great to see him."

Clemson is coming off a disappointing 1-2 finish in the ACC Tournament after finishing the season with a dramatic home sweep of Florida State.

The Tigers did end the conference tournament with a win over Georgia Tech, ruining the Yellow Jackets push for the title game.

"We played well on Saturday against Georgia Tech. Hopefully we can carry that into this weekend," Leggett said. "We were playing OK the days before. We played pretty good against Virginia Tech, just didn't pitch well."

Each coach on staff has been assigned to scout one of three teams in the regional.

"We have to go down there, relax and have everybody playing our best baseball," Leggett said. "Everybody's got to step up. We have to have guys in the lineup hit when we go down there. You have to pitch, play good defense. You can't allow extra base runners to get on because everyone deserves to be there."

The losers of the games on Friday will play on Saturday, followed by a game between the winners from Friday on Saturday.

The winner of the second game Saturday plays in the championship round on Sunday at 6, the loser of the second game Saturday will play the winner of the day's first game. If the unbeaten team loses on Sunday, the same two teams will play a game on Monday at 7 to decide who moves on from the Auburn Regional.

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