Clate Schmidt couldn’t help but smile when talking about his midseason “struggles” last week.
Clemson’s senior right-hander then got serious about a stretch that saw him give up 15 earned runs in three April starts.
“That was something that was unacceptable,” Schmidt said about his performance. “I was supposed to be ‘the guy’ for this staff and to affect senior leadership.”
Schmidt’s teammates kept telling him he’d turn it around, and after a brief stint in the bullpen, Schmidt is enjoying a resurgence as his Clemson career begins to close.
The Acworth, Georgia, native has allowed 16 runs in his last seven games, all starts, and he’s given up just four runs over 25.1 innings while recording a win in his last three outings.
He’s also coming off one the best performances of his career. Against Louisville in the ACC tournament last Friday, Schmidt limited one of the nation’s best offenses to two earned runs on eight hits, and he was one out away from a complete game in a huge, 5-3 win over the Cardinals. It was the second consecutive start Schmidt’s reached the ninth inning.
“It doesn’t get more gutsy than that,” Clemson coach Monte Lee said. “The guy is just an absolute warrior, and the one thing that you know when Clate Schmidt pitches in big-time atmospheres and big-time games, he steps up, he elevates to the level of competition, and when we need him the most, he got it done for us.
“So I just can’t tell you how proud I am for him. It will go down in my mind as one of the more gutsy performances I’ve seen out of a starting pitcher.”
Schmidt’s roller coaster year dates back to last summer, when he battled cancer and was given a clean bill of health before the season began. Schmidt got off to a solid start and had an incredible game when he held South Carolina to one hit in 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a 5-0 win in Greenville.
“He’s thrown extremely well,” Lee said. “I couldn’t be prouder of him to be able to stick with the process, to deal with the ups and downs, and all the adversity that he’s faced in life, I think has helped him.”