Clemson coach Jack Leggett is leaving Omaha disappointed that his team was unable to capitalize on its place in the winner’s bracket and advance to the national championship series for the first time in school history. He’s disappointed, yes, but he’s also very proud of his team for putting together the improbable run to Omaha and being one of the final teams playing college baseball this season.
Jack Leggett and players Mike Freeman and Casey Harman discuss Omaha experience
Of course it is a hard pill to swallow when your team needs just one win to advance to the national championships series. The pill is even tougher to get down when the team that eliminated you is your in-state rival and the same team that knocked you out of Omaha in 2002. Certainly there is no getting around that sting if you are Jack Leggett.
Any loss, especially those in Omaha and those to an arch rival, hurt Leggett. However, he’s been around long enough to know when he’s team has done something special. Leggett has said on more than one occasion what an “emotional rollercoaster” this season has been. With all the highs and lows and inconsistencies, there weren’t a lot of people expecting Clemson to do much in the postseason.
A 1-2 showing in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro seemed to back up that theory. The starting pitching was shaky, the bullpen was terrible and the defense was dicey at best. This team didn’t have Super Regional much less Omaha in its future. Or so it seemed.
The Tigers went on the road to Auburn for a regional and, despite a heartbreaking 9th inning loss in what would have been a decisive game, bounced back and won easily the following night.
The, by virtue of Georgia Tech’s annual postseason collapse, the Tigers were able to play at home in the Supers. Alabama rolled in to Doug Kingsmore Stadium and one game one of the matchup. The end was near for the Tigers. Or so it seemed.
Clemson pounded Alabama in the second game and jumped on the Crimson Tide early and held on late in the final game to earn their 12th trip to Omaha.
It was an impressive run. Yet, most of us still thought the magic would end early in Omaha when the competition went up tenfold. A first round matchup with top ranked and number one national seed Arizona State looked like the beginning of the end for the Tigers.
One rain delayed game later Clemson was 1-0 in the CWS. One rain postponed two-day game against Oklahoma and the Tigers were 2-0.
I know when people look back on this season most will only remember the two losses to USC at Rosenblatt Stadium. Here’s hoping that those same people don’t forget the fortitude and perseverance the Tigers showed just to get to those two games.
That run the postseason says a lot about the character of Jack Leggett and his baseball program. He’s right; they don’t have anything to hang their heads over.
Clemson will be back in Omaha. Soon.