Heading into his first season with the program, Erik Bakich likes a lot of things about his Clemson Baseball team.
Bakich also knows each and every college baseball season can be its own unique roller coaster ride, filled with plenty of ups and downs, and the success of any team will ride on how the players respond when the going gets tough.
The Tigers’ new head coach has talked on more than one occasion about this team being as talented as any he had at Michigan, including the one that made to the College World Series in 2019. He has also raved about the depth, as well as the teams level of commitment.
However, how this team responds when faced with some adversity is one of the few unknowns for the Tigers’ new head coach.
“I feel good about our talent,” Bakich said. “I feel good about our preparation. I feel good about everything we’ve done to get our team ready to play. The question mark I have is the response to the adversity. And that’s every coach’s question because we just haven’t seen it. We saw a little bit, just looking at last year stats and seasons past, were a little bit of a roller coaster. And just want to see them be able to respond when something bad happens on the field.”
Bakich is confident he and the rest of the coaching staff have prepared the Tigers for any and all situations, but until this team is faced with some real adversity on the baseball diamond, it’s impossible to know how they will respond.
“That’s the one thing I’m excited to see is all this mental toughness training, all this really pushing their limits and their boundaries and getting them out of their comfort zone and getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” Bakich said. “Excited to see how it shows up on the field when we’re trailing in the eighth or ninth, or a team jumps out to an early lead, or guys feel like they’re on the wrong side of a lot of calls. Let’s see our response there.”
Bakick is tasked with returning a once proud Clemson Baseball program back to national prominence. Last season, the Tigers failed to make it into an NCAA Regional for the second straight year, something that had not happened since the 1980s.
Throughout fall ball and into the preseason, Bakich has liked the mentality his players have embraced when it comes to preparing for the season. Confidence is high, and with the Opening Day now upon them, the head coach is excited to see how all the offseason work will translate to the field of play.
“It’s getting them to understand that we’re going to take that gut punch, we’re going to get hit in the face,” Bakich said. “But we’re going to get up when we get knocked down and keep moving forward. It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to be about it and do it.”
Clemson will open the season on Friday, as the Tigers will host Binghamton for a three game weekend series at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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