CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson coach Jack Leggett doesn't expect his recent Hall of Fame induction to blunt his desire to win or ease his disappointment should the Tigers come up short.
Leggett became a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame earlier this month. On Saturday, he opened practice before his 21st season with the Tigers with the same goal as always — to reach the College World Series.
"It's going to be exactly the same, trying to put together a team to get quality wins for our program," Leggett said. "When we win, I'm happy. And I think they like making me happy."
Leggett has been mostly happy the past two decades with 887 victories and six trips to Omaha at Clemson. In recent years, though, his clubs have gotten lapped by the championship program at South Carolina, which has won national titles in 2010 and 2011 and knocked the rival Tigers from the NCAA tournament in two of the past four seasons.
Last June, all the buzz was about the Clemson-South Carolina showdown ahead when the two teams were matched up in NCAA's Columbia Regional. Instead, the Tigers lost two straight to Big South champ Liberty and never faced the Gamecocks.
"Every team is going to lose its last game of the year unless you win a national championship, which is very tough to do," said Leggett, who'll turn 60 in March. "It's always a motivating factor whether you lose in a regional, a super regional or in Omaha. It always stinks getting on the bus and starting over again."
But while last year's lineup had seven players in their first-ever NCAA tournament games, this year's squad is filled with experience and depth.
The Tigers began workouts in 30-degree temperatures. For Leggett, though, it was good to get back to business after the past few weeks when the spotlight was focused on him instead of the players.
Leggett thinks the Tigers have worked hard in the offseason and look ready to take a major step forward.