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North Fulton represented in Clemson baseball
by Marcel Pourtout
mpourtout@neighbornewspapers.com
June 19, 2013 12:45 PM | 1383 views | 0 0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the NCAA College Baseball World Series in action this week in Omaha, Neb., the sports world turns its eye to a sport that has seen an increase of participation and interest within the past decade. Collegiate programs within the state of Georgia such as Georgia Tech, Georgia, Mercer and Georgia Southern have each made the NCAA Tournament during this time frame with rosters filled with Georgia natives. Even elite programs outside of the Peachtree State have looked to the burgeoning youth and high school baseball programs to find elite talent. Clemson has become one of these schools as the Tigers currently have five players on their roster from the North Fulton area.

Freshman Tyler Krieger, an infielder who started every game for Clemson in the 2013 campaign and attended Northview High School in Johns Creek, knows directly the talent within his hometown. “I faced some good pitchers and top competition while I was in high school,” said Krieger, who is currently playing in a summer college wooden bat league for the Santa Barbara Foresters during his Clemson offseason and led the Tigers in defensive assists with 192. “The Georgia players are very good compared to other parts of the country and it was good preparation for college.”

“Tyler is a tremendous player who’s a hard worker and loves the game,” said Clemson assistant head coach Brad LeCroy. “He loves being coached and has a great future with us.”

Other contributors to the Clemson roster include utility player Jay Baum, Alpharetta / Centennial HS, who played in 52 games, pitcher Matt Campbell, Alpharetta / Northview HS, whose seven saves led the team and Kyle Schnell, Alpharetta / Milton made a team-high 24 appearances in relief for the Tigers while posting the Tigers’ third-lowest ERA — 2.84 — out of the bullpen.

Roswell native Steve Wilkerson provided stability at second base for Clemson, starting in 58 games, leading the team in doubles, 16, finished second in total bases, 98 and third in home runs, 4, slugging percentage, .432 and walks, 27.

“Steve’s an experienced player who helped out our younger guys like Tyler this season,” said LeCroy. “He hits at the top of our lineup and provides great power, is a tremendous athlete and the one guy you want up to bat with the game on the line.”

Clemson has made the North Fulton area a priority in recruiting and believes the environment helps cultivated the best out of the players.

“This is our top area for recruitment outside of the state of South Carolina,” said LeCroy. “The facilities are great, there are good student-athletes with strong academics and Clemson is close to their homes.”

The Tigers finished this season with a record of 40-22, including 18 wins in the highly-regarded Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson has also been to the NCAA Tournament for 26 out of the last 27 seasons, including this year’s appearance in the Columbia Region. Overall, the Tigers have been to the College World Series 12 times in the history of the program.

The North Fulton players also play a role in helping the Clemson coaching staff during the evaluation process.

“The players know each other and have been on the same teams for years,” stated LeCroy. “It’s a good tool for us because the current players know the families, help out as hosts on campus visits and represent a familiar face when the younger guy makes it on to Clemson.”

Krieger knows that the standards of the program meet the expectations of Georgia players. “My first year was positive and gained valuable experience,” said Krieger. “This summer’s aim is to keep getting better and improving physically because our goal is to make it to Omaha every year. That’s the culture of the Clemson program.”
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