Clemson ready to defy low expectations

The Clemson Tigers opened practice on Monday for a season in which the league's coaches have picked them to finish third in the ACC.

CLEMSON, S.C. (WACH) - The Clemson baseball team is starting the season under the radar and the squad's taking notice.

The Tigers opened practice Monday for a season in which the league's coaches have picked them to finish third in the ACC. However, Clemson is missing from most of the major preseason top 25 polls, including the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.

While those on the outside may have low expectations for the team, Coach Jack Leggett, who is entering his 20th season at Clemson, is using that snub in the polls as motivation.

"I dont really put much stock into preseason polls, even when we are ranked No. 1 or No. 10," said Leggett. "I never put much thought into it or even mention it to the team. I did mention this one to the team, because if we play with a chip on our shoulder and practice with a chip on our shoulder, we might be a better team because of it."

Clemson lost five starting position players, including first-round pick and All-American first baseman, Richie Shaffer, and three starting pitchers from a team that finished 36-28 and had an early exit from the postseason in the Columbia regional.

Clemson is looking to an influx of young talent to make a push to the College World Series in Omaha despite the low expectations of those who aren't part of the program.

"We have a really good incoming freshman class. They have been working extremely hard and have been really good examples for the older guys," said Leggett. "I told these players the other day...I always think we are going to win every game. Going into the season, we are going to be 56-0. Going in to every single game, I expect to win."

Clemson opens the season February 15 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium with a three-game series against William & Mary.