CLEMSON – Absence has made coach Jack Leggett grow fonder of Clemson’s opportunity to play host to an NCAA regional.
As expected, the Tigers were awarded Sunday one of 16 sites for next weekend’s NCAA regionals, which feature four teams in a double-elimination format.
The other three teams participating in Clemson’s regional will become known when the NCAA reveals the 64-team field during today’s 12:30 p.m. tournament selection show on ESPN.
The Tigers (40-19) return to the NCAA tourney after their stretch of 21 consecutive appearances – then the third-longest streak in the country – ended last season. It also marks the first time Clemson has served as a regional host since 2006.
“This is huge for us,” Leggett said. “Last year was disappointing, and we came back with some fire in our eyes because we hadn’t been there in a long period of time. We have a lot of tradition and are in a situation where we feel like we’ve earned it.”
As recent history suggests, the Tigers could use it, too.
Since the NCAA field expanded in 1999, Clemson has won all eight of his home postseason series, making its three College World Series appearances after hosting both a regional and super regional series.
Conversely, it has lost six of eight road series, with one of those wins coming two years ago in Myrtle Beach.
Nonetheless, Leggett hopes Clemson responds better to this week’s five-day layoff than it did last week’s, when the team dropped its first two ACC tournament games.
The Tigers then defeated top-seeded North Carolina 4-3 in 11 innings Saturday with Wilson Boyd’s dramatic walk-off hit – an outcome Leggett believes can give Clemson postseason momentum.
“We got to 40 wins, our RPI and schedule were good, and we’ve been battling all year long and kept going,” Leggett said. “It will hopefully be good for our fans to see us play at home again.”
The ACC tallied four regional hosts – including North Carolina, Florida State and Georgia Tech – the most by any conference.
The 16 regional sites, with host institutions and records are as follows:
** Arizona State (43-12 through Saturday, May 23), Tempe, Ariz.;
** UC Irvine (42-13 through Saturday, May 23), Irvine, Calif.;
** Cal State Fullerton (41-14 through Saturday, May 23), Fullerton, Calif.;
** Clemson (40-19), Clemson, S.C.;
** East Carolina (42-17), Greenville, N.C.;
** Florida (39-20), Gainesville, Fla.;
** Florida St. (42-15 through Saturday, May 23), Tallahassee, Fla.;
** Georgia Tech (35-17-1), Atlanta;
** LSU (45-16 through Saturday, May 23), Baton Rouge, La.;
** Louisville (44-15), Louisville, Ky.;
** Mississippi (40-17), Oxford, Miss.;
** North Carolina (42-16), Chapel Hill, N.C.;
** Oklahoma (41-18), Norman, Okla.;
** Rice (39-15), Houston; Texas (40-13-1 through Saturday, May 23), Austin, Texas;
** TCU (36-16), Fort Worth, Texas.