Don’t hit the panic button just yet on the Clemson baseball program.
Last season was ended early, just like all other spring sports, due to the pandemic, and as it did, Clemson was on a tremendous high. They had started out 14-3 and were 6-0 in one run games. They were on a roll.
Fast forward a year and the Tigers are 5-8 overall and 1-5 in ACC play after getting swept in Chapel Hill last weekend. It’s their worst start to a season since the 1983 team, who began that season with a 4-8-1 record. The 1983 Tigers did bounce back that season to finish at 30-20-1.
This start has had many fans asking how this happened and scratching their heads. It’s also has some asking questions like, is head coach Monte Lee in over his head, and if it is time for Clemson to look in another direction.
Don’t hit the panic button just yet. This season sees Lee and the Tigers breaking in 27 freshmen. 13 of those are true freshmen. When you combine that with the fact that there are only seven upperclassmen on the roster, it explains a little of where the woes are coming from.
There is a lot of talent on this team, but also a great deal of inexperience and that can cause growing pains. Especially, when some of guys have been forced to take on a bigger role a lot sooner than Lee would have liked due to the early season injuries to Adam Hackenberg and Sam Hall. Keyshawn Askew, and Kier Meredith all missed multiple games injured, with Askew just returning over the weekend.
The Tiger pitching staff is replacing three of its top pitchers from a year ago in Sam Weatherly (third-round draft pick), Spencer Strider (fourth-round draft pick), and closer Carson Spiers (free-agent signee). The trio were big reasons Clemson was off to as great a start as they were.
Hitting at opportune times, or the lack of it, has also really hurt this team. Over the 13 games played this season the Tigers have left 93 runners on base and a number of those were in scoring position. In ACC play, Clemson is 0 for their last 26 with RISP.
This is still baseball, though. It is still early and a lot can change as this team gathers more experience and gets players back from injury.