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Archive for Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Clemson not impressed by No. 1 seed

May 30, 2006

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Clemson's players and coaches showed little emotion when the Tigers were picked Monday as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament. No cheers, no wild celebrations - not yet.

"What it tells you is that this team is focused on the whole deal," coach Jack Leggett said.

That means getting to the College World Series, and winning it - as some have predicted of a balanced Clemson (47-14) squad that has won 19 of its last 20 games.

"I think this is the team to do it, to be honest with you," outfielder Brad Chalk said. "But everyone's got to be at the top of their game and everybody's got to be ready to play every game and take nothing for granted."

The Tigers, the Atlantic Coast Conference regular- season and tournament champions, will entertain one of 16 four-team, double-elimination regionals that begin Friday.

"The most impressive thing to me was the way they played at the end of the year, winning the regular season in that conference and winning the tournament in that conference," committee chairman Larry Templeton said. "They took on anybody and everybody, and they beat them."

The other national seeds, in order, are: Rice (50-10), Texas (40-19), Alabama (41-19), Cal State Fullerton (43-13), Nebraska (42-15), Georgia (41-19) and Georgia Tech (45-16).

"We spent more time reviewing the top eight seeds than ever before at any point that I've been involved with this committee," said Templeton, also the athletic director at Mississippi State.

Templeton's Bulldogs were one of eight Southeastern Conference teams to receive berths - down from the record nine it had the last two years.

Mississippi State (35-21) started the season on an 18-game winning streak, but struggled in SEC play with a 12-17 record. Templeton wasn't in the room while the Bulldogs were being discussed, but committee member Mike Hamrick said Mississippi State was selected on its strength of schedule and winning record against top-150 teams.

Joining Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi State from the SEC are Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Getting seven teams each were the ACC - Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia - and the Big 12 - Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.

Miami (36-21) is making its 34th straight tournament appearance to extend its NCAA record.

Lehigh (28-26), UNC Asheville (28-33), Prairie View (33-20), San Francisco (38-21) and Sacred Heart (26-28) are all in the field for the first time.

Manhattan (32-21) won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to earn its first berth since 1957. Saint Louis, the Atlantic 10 champ, is in for the first time since 1966, while Ball State is making its first appearance since 1969.

Hamrick said there were 17 teams considered for the final seven spots, and 12 teams were discussed for the last five berths.

"We felt all 12 teams had a legitimate shot at being considered for the field of 64," said Hamrick, the athletic director at UNLV. "There's some very good baseball teams that, unfortunately, will not get to participate, but we do feel very good about the field."

LSU wasn't selected for the tournament after finishing eighth in the SEC, the first time since 1988 the Tigers aren't in the field of 64.

"At the end, the teams they were being compared to, in the committee's eyes, they did not match up to the teams that got into the tournament," Hamrick said.

"We're very disappointed that we didn't receive a bid to the tournament," LSU coach Smoke Laval said. "But as I told our players, you can't leave it in the hands of someone else. We should have been able to earn it ourselves and not rely on other factors."

Also out is national runner-up Florida, which battled numerous injuries and finished second to last in the SEC.

Each of the regionals will be played on campus sites from June 2-5.

The 16 regional hosts are: Alabama, Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Rice, Texas and Virginia.

The winners of each regional will advance to the super-regionals, played June 9-12. The eight winners of the super-regionals will play in the College World Series, which starts June 16 in Omaha, Neb.

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