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Jacob Hennessy will start on Friday night
Clemson Baseball

Clemson's Jacob Hennessy will get first career start Opening Day

February 13, 2018
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CLEMSON – It’s that time of year once again. Baseball is back in the upstate.

Clemson’s baseball season begins this Friday, February 16th, against William & Mary. With Opening Day just a few days away, head coach Monte Lee has been trying to get a good idea of who will start in the field.

"We’ve had a hard time scoring in the last six, seven inner-squads and that’s a testament to the pitching staff and how well they have thrown."
- Monte Lee

We’ve heard so many good things about Clemson’s pitching performance this offseason and Lee said there were six capable starting pitchers who made life tough on him the past few days. Lee announced what the pitching rotation would look like on the opening weekend of the season.

The Opening Day starter will be Jacob Hennessy, followed by Brooks Crawford on Saturday, and Jake Higginbotham on Sunday.

“We’ve had a hard time scoring in the last six, seven inner-squads and that’s a testament to the pitching staff and how well they have thrown,” Lee said. “We felt for the first weekend, these guys have experience, and they’ve thrown well enough to deserve to start.”

Opening Day will be Hennessy’s first career start for Clemson.

The sophomore left-hander spent most of his freshman year coming to the mound in relief, but he’s spent the offseason preparing for a starting role on the pitching staff. He appeared in 26 games as a reliever his freshman year.

In 30.2 innings pitched, he allowed 32 hits (.274 opponents’ batting average) and 11 walks with 37 strikeouts. Hennessy found out he’d be starting 20 minutes before he met with the media Tuesday afternoon.

“I had a good offseason and worked on another pitch and am ready to go,” Hennessy said. “Last year taught me that college is a lot different than high school. The season is a lot longer. Just got to take it one day at a time and stick to your routine and you’re going to have high’s and low’s when you throw a lot of innings.”

"Last year taught me that college is a lot different than high school. The season is a lot longer. Just got to take it one day at a time and stick to your routine and you’re going to have high’s and low’s when you throw a lot of innings.”
- Jacob Hennessy

Hennessy grew up in the upstate in Moore, South Carolina and went to Dorman High School, where he played baseball for all four years. His goal on Opening Day, and every day he’ll step in as a starter, is to go all nine innings.

“Growing up in the area constantly watching and hearing about Clemson Baseball and getting the chance to make this start is a really cool opportunity,” Hennessy said.

Hennessy took the offseason to work on a new pitch to prepare him for a starting role. His newly developed changeup is Charlie Barnes-like and is the reason he’s now in the starting rotation.

“We love his dependability out of the bullpen, and he was mostly a fastball, slider guy last year. But the progress of the changeup is why he’s starting,” Lee said. “It’s been that good of a pitch where hitters know it’s coming and they are swinging through it.”

Even Seth Beer said he’s been having trouble with Hennessy’s pitching the last few times they’ve met in scrimmages.

“He honestly gives me fits. Period,” Beer said. “I don’t know what it is, but he just goes out there and competes and he brings that every day.”

As for the rest of the defensive lineup, Lee is still not set on his lineup. He’s narrowed it down to around 10 or 11 guys in his mind, but there are only nine spots to fill. There is still a battle at center field between true freshman Bryce Teodosio and Drew Wharton.

Here’s what we do know: Beer will play in right field until Chris Williams is healthy enough to play behind the plate. Williams will start out the year at first base. Jordan Greene is the guy Lee will go with at second base, and Logan Davidson at shortstop.

Grayson Byrd at third base has the upper hand because of his experience, but Patrick Cromwell has been playing well and can play third or first base.

There are many different defensive scenarios Lee would like to try to get worked in over the first few weeks of the season. To this point, experience is what is most valuable as Clemson begins their quest for a run to Omaha.

**Monte Lee Joined Clemson Sports Talk's radio show last night and we will have a premium article from that interview released later this week.

 
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