TigerIllustrated - Looking for turnaround
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Looking for turnaround

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CLEMSON – Wins over South Carolina don't come around often for Clemson's baseball team, but Jack Leggett didn't look like a man who was savoring the moment about 10 minutes after Wednesday's 7-5 victory over the Gamecocks.
Leggett seemed worn down after a week that saw his team lose twice to Georgia and once to those despised rivals from Columbia.
The Tigers beat South Carolina for the first time in two years, but Leggett knows one victory won't mean much if his Tigers turn around and stink it up in this weekend's home series against No. 11 Miami.
It's already been a difficult season for Leggett, who entered this year determined to cleanse the rancid taste left from failing to make the NCAA Tournament in 2008.
There's been a more-of-the-same feel to things, and Clemson folks aren't happy about that.
"You're not alone, but you feel like you're alone," he said. "You feel like you're alone on an island when things don't go well. But it happens to a lot of people. So you've just got to keep rolling."
Leggett, who's 701-320-1 in his 16th season with the Tigers, probably isn't staying up late at night perusing the message-board vitriol that's being directed his way.
But you can bet he knows his critics are growing in number the longer Clemson is removed from the greatness that marks much of its history.
Used to be, seemed like a disappointment when the Tigers didn't win 50 games. Now the prospect of 40 wins sounds like an accomplishment.
Last year's team won just 31 games, its lowest total since 1983. This year's team is 21-11 with 24 regular-season games remaining, so 40 wins is far from a lock.
Leggett contends this program is not in shambles, that it's not far away.
After guiding the Tigers to four College World Series appearances in his first nine years, Leggett has reached Omaha once (2006) in the past six seasons.
And not many people are predicting a return this year.
"We haven't been overmatched physically by anybody yet," he said. "We've just got to shore up a couple of little things. Every mistake we've made so far has come back to haunt us just a little bit – just enough to cause you a problem."
There's a long list of "What if" games Leggett can recite with ease. All those ninth-inning breakdowns (South Carolina twice, North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia).
Don't forget Furman on March 3. One strike from a combined no hitter, the Tigers ended up going into extra innings and losing 4-2.
Looking back, that defeat serves as a fitting microcosm for the Tigers' season.
"We've had some tough losses," Leggett said. "That was more my focus than anything else: Let's get beyond that. Let's move into that next realm where we know what kind of program we are. We know what kind of tradition we have, what kind of history we have. Clemson is used to winning those games. You've just got to have a different frame of mind."
Leggett believes the Tigers' gradual slide must be viewed in the proper context by considering schedule rigor.
Last year, 14 of their 27 losses came to teams ranked No. 14 or better. And nine of those losses came to teams ranked in the top five.
This year, the Tigers lost two of three at No. 3 North Carolina and twice to No. 6 Georgia.
Clemson is still atop the ACC's Atlantic Division with a 9-6 record, just ahead of Florida State and Boston College (7-6 apiece).
"Our schedule was number one in the country last year," he said. "It's probably negative five this year. That's all there is to it. It's beyond what most people would do. I think it's smart."
The small mistakes become magnified against good competition, and the Tigers will face more good competition against the Hurricanes (24-8, 10-5).
"It's a good barometer for where we are," he said.
For better or worse.
Leggett is hoping it's the former.
"You can't let any one series, or series of events, or any tough loss here and there derail you," he said. "It's easy to do, but you can't let it happen. You cannot let it happen. You've just got to keep battling, because it's a long season and there's a lot of people who are going through the same thing we do."
FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE: Due to the threat of inclement weather, the Clemson vs. Miami (FL) baseball game on Friday night has been postponed. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 3:30 PM. Both games will be nine-inning contests with approximately 45 minutes in between games.
Tickets for Friday's scheduled game will only be honored for the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, while tickets for Saturday's scheduled game will only be honored for the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday, as the stadium will be cleared in between games.
A limited number of reserved seats are available for the first game of the doubleheader, but reserved seats for the second game of the doubleheader are sold out. However, general admission seats are available for both games on Saturday and can be purchased by calling 1-800-CLEMSON along with being available online at ClemsonTigers.com and at the gate on gameday.
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