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Clemson set to open season versus Charlotte

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Clemson (0-0), ranked as high as #19 in the nation, will open its 2009 schedule when it plays host to Charlotte (0-0) this weekend in a three-game series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Game times are 4:00 PM (Friday), 2:00 PM (Saturday), and 1:00 PM (Sunday). All three games will be broadcast live on the radio by WCCP (104.9 FM) out of Clemson and can be heard live on the internet at WCCPFM.com.
The Series
Clemson and Charlotte have met 10 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding an 8-2 lead in the series dating back to 1985.
The two teams last played a game at Doug Kingsmore Stadium on February 24, 2004, as the 49ers defeated the Tigers 5-4. The two teams also faced each other in 2000 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, as Clemson was victorious 14-2. That was the last of eight straight wins in the series since Charlotte won the first-ever meeting in 1985.
The Tigers lead 5-2 in games at Clemson and Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Tiger Head Coach Jack Leggett is 2-1 against the 49ers as well.
The Starting Pitchers
In game-one, Charlotte will start sophomore righthander Joe Yermal. The Bel Air, MD native had an 8-2 record and 4.39 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) for a total of 84.0 innings pitched. He allowed 87 hits (.268 opponents' batting average) and 20 walks with 44 strikeouts.
The Tigers will counter with senior righthander Trey Delk on Friday. The Elgin, SC native had a 2-1 record and 4.01 ERA in 14 appearances (five starts) for a total of 42.2 innings pitched in 2008. He allowed 46 hits (.271 opponents' batting average) and 15 walks with 34 strikeouts.
In game-two, the 49ers will send out sophomore righthander Andrew Smith. The Matthews, NC native had a 4-2 record and 5.91 ERA in 18 appearances (seven starts) for a total of 53.1 innings pitched. He yielded 73 hits (.335 opponents' batting average), 28 walks, and just two home runs with 39 strikeouts.
Clemson will counter with freshman lefthander Chris Dwyer on Saturday. The Swampscott, MA native will be making his first appearance as a Tiger after being selected in the 36th round by the Yankees in the 2008 draft.
In game-three, Charlotte will start freshman lefthander Tyler Pilkington. The Waxhaw, NC native will be making his first career appearance on the mound.
The Tigers will counter with sophomore righthander Graham Stoneburner on Sunday. The Richmond, VA native had a 6-5 record and 5.55 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) for a total of 71.1 innings pitched in 2008. He gave up 78 hits (.281 opponents' batting average) and 21 walks with 52 strikeouts.
The 49ers
Charlotte, led by 17th-year Head Coach Loren Hibbs, has yet to play a game in 2009. The 49ers are coming off a 43-16 season, which included a first-place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 19-8 record. They also played in the Columbia (SC) Regional. In the last three seasons, Charlotte is fourth in the nation in winning percentage as well.
Charlotte returns 19 lettermen and six position starters along with nine of its 13 pitchers. Corey Shaylor (.366) is the 49ers' top returning hitter. Rob Lyerly, who hit .364 with 26 doubles, 15 homers, and 76 RBIs in 2008, also returns. Both Shaylor and Lyerly are on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. The award is presented each year to the nation's best player.
The Tigers
Clemson enters the season-opening series against Charlotte ranked as high as #19 in the nation by Baseball America. Clemson is also ranked #25 in the Sports Weekly poll.
The Tigers are coming off a 31-27-1 season in 2008 when they failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1986.
The Tigers return eight position starters in 2009, however, many newcomers are expected to see playing time in the season-opening series. Among the top returnees are First-Team All-ACC player Kyle Parker, who hit .303 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs as a freshman in 2008. Mike Freeman (.332) led the team in batting average, while Ben Paulsen hit .310 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs.
Addison Johnson will return after missing the entire 2008 season due to injury. Johnson was the starting centerfielder as a freshman in 2007 and was one of the team's hottest hitters in the postseason.
Five Tigers hail from the state of North Carolina, Wilson Boyd (Hickory), John Hinson (Asheville), Johnson (Pfafftown), Matt Sanders (New Bern), and Josh Thrailkill (Arden).
Worth Noting
• With its preseason top-25 rankings by Baseball America and Sports Weekly, Clemson has been ranked in the top 25 in at least one of the three major polls for 21 consecutive years.
• Thirty of Clemson's 56 regular-season games will be against teams that played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. That includes 15 of 26 non-conference games against 2008 NCAA Tourney teams.
Tigers Picked Second in ACC Atlantic
Clemson was picked to finish second in the ACC Atlantic Division by the 12 league coaches in the preseason. The Tigers received four first-place votes to win the ACC Atlantic Division, just behind Florida State's eight first-place votes.
Behind Florida State and Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division were N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Maryland.
North Carolina was picked to win the ACC Coastal Division title. Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), Virginia, Duke, and Virginia Tech rounded out the ACC Coastal Division preseason picks. The Tar Heels were picked to win the ACC overall title with 10 first-place votes.
Clemson enters 2009 ranked #19 in the preseason Baseball America poll and #25 in the preseason Sports Weekly poll. Clemson is not ranked in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll.
Clemson has had at least one final top-25 ranking in 12 of Head Coach Jack Leggett's first 15 seasons in Tigertown. The Tigers have also been ranked #1 for 20 weeks by at least one of the three major polls under Leggett.
Tigers Have 187 Top-25 Wins Under Leggett
In 16 seasons at Clemson, Head Coach Jack Leggett has 187 wins over teams ranked in the top 25. Only four times in his 15 seasons has he had a losing record against teams in the top 25.
Leggett Leading a Consistent Winner
Head Coach Jack Leggett has a 680-309-1 (.687) record at Clemson in his 16th season. The legendary Bill Wilhelm has the most wins of any Tiger coach with 1,161 in 36 seasons (1958-93) at Clemson. Leggett's 680 wins are second-most in school history. No other Clemson coach has more than 70 wins while in Tigertown.
Through Leggett's 15 seasons at Clemson, he had 680 wins. Only four other programs (Florida State, Wichita State, Rice, Miami (FL)) have more wins over that span from 1994-08.
Four Tigers Signaling Success on Two Fields
Clemson might have the best group of quarterbacks of any baseball team in the country. Four Tigers, Chris Dwyer, Richard Mounce, Kyle Parker, and Matt Vaughn, were standout signal-callers in high school. And one (Parker) actually plays on the Tiger football team and will compete for the starting quarterback job in 2009.
Dwyer, a freshman lefthander from Swampscott, MA, led his high school teams to a 38-2 record in four years as the starting quarterback and earned all-conference honors all four seasons. He was also a first-team All-New England pick and Boston Globe Player-of-the-Year at Salisbury (CT) School who passed for over 5,100 yards and 58 touchdowns along with 21 rushing touchdowns in his career.
Mounce, a freshman first-baseman and righthander from Columbia, SC, was named Mr. Football in South Carolina as a senior at Blythewood High School. He was his team's offensive MVP in the Shrine Bowl after being named AAA Offensive Player-of-the-Year. As a senior, he completed 152-223 passes (68.2 percent) for 2,416 yards and 34 touchdowns against just two interceptions and rushed for 667 yards in 10 games. Mounce led his team to a 33-1 record in his high school career and teamed with current Tiger wide receiver Marquan Jones to set numerous school records.
Parker, a sophomore outfielder from Jacksonville, FL, red-shirted on the gridiron in 2008 and will compete for the starting job in 2009. Like 2008, he will go through spring practice with the football team. The First-Team All-ACC player was successful in juggling the two sports and hopes to do the same in 2009. Parker, who graduated from Bartram Trail High School a semester early in order to play baseball at Clemson in 2008, was the #34 football prospect in the nation and #4 quarterback in the nation out of high school according to ESPN.com. He had over 2,500 passing yards and 15 touchdowns along with over 1,000 rushing yards as a senior.
Vaughn, a senior righty and captain from Summerville, SC, starred as a quarterback at Summerville High School under the legendary John McKissick, the nation's all-time winningest high school coach. Vaughn was one of the top-50 quarterbacks in the nation according to PrepStar. As a senior at Summerville High School, he quarterbacked alongside then-freshman A.J. Green, a current Georgia star who is one of the nation's top wide receivers.
Captain Vaughn
Senior righthander Matt Vaughn is the Tigers' lone team captain in 2009. In recent years, there has been at least two co-captains on the team. But in 2009, Vaughn is the lone captain as the team's top leader. He was also one of 40 players on the NCBWA Stopper-of-the-Year Award Watch List in the preseason.
"We have one team captain in Matt Vaughn," said Head Coach Jack Leggett in the preseason. "Matt brings to the table a competitive, loyal spirit every single day he comes out to the field. He works extremely hard. He has battled through a couple of injuries that will sideline him for the early part of the season. He's a tough, hard-nosed competitor that loves Clemson and is loyal to our program. He is a good leader and everyone looks up to him, so he is the right guy for that role."
Vaughn won the Tiger Baseball Award as a junior in 2008. The award is given to the team's best leader. So it was only fitting that Vaughn be named team captain in 2009.
The Summerville, SC native led the team in ERA (3.15), saves (11), and opponents' batting average (.256) in 2008. The 11 saves were third-most in the ACC and tied for 18th-most in the nation.
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