Erik Bakich spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon ahead of fall training starting on Friday. Bakich is heading into his second season as the Tiger head coach, coming off a 44-19 record last year.
After a slow start to the regular season, which placed the Tigers last in the conference with a 2-8 record in league play, a double-digit winning streak gave Bakich’s group momentum heading into postseason play, where Clemson went undefeated in Durham to capture the program’s 16th ACC championship.
While many positives came out of the 2023 campaign, Bakich clarified that he and the team were not satisfied.
“We finished the year not in Omaha. While there were some bright spots, like winning the ACC, it wasn’t a year that ended in the College World Series.”
While the official 2024 season does not begin until February, Bakich stressed the importance of fall training in making a deep postseason run.
“We know how important it is to build a foundation in the fall and why this time is so critical, because there has to be that foundation for the things that take place in June.”
Clemson brings back 21 lettermen from the 2023 roster, but a variety of newcomers through the 2023 recruiting class and transfer portal look to make an impact for the Tigers this spring.
Bakich mentioned the acquisition of two transfers from Wofford, Matthew Marchal and Lucas Mahlstedt, who add variety to the pitching staff. Marchal was described as a consistent strike thrower, while Mahlstedt has an “unconventional look” as a sidearm reliever.
While not an addition to the roster, Will Taylor is participating in fall training for the first time in his Clemson tenure after a two-year stint as a wide receiver for the football team. Bakich stated that having fall training and his decision to specialize in baseball could go a long way towards his impact on the team this season.
Clemson also returns Cam Cannarella, the 2023 ACC Freshman-of-the-Year and a first-team freshman All-American.
Perhaps the biggest loss from the 2023 team was two-way star Caden Grice, who was selected between the second and third rounds by the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he was not on the mound, Grice anchored the batting order and played either first base or was the team’s DH. Bakich said the first-base role for this year is far from decided.