Brittles surge at the plate sparks Clemson baseballs stagnant offense
CLEMSON — Thomas Brittle was limited to watching and ruminating on his game last month, unable to swing a bat or play in the field for seven straight games after requiring multiple stitches to close a laceration on his left hand.
As he watched teammates struggle through the middle of March, he thought about his own approach at the plate. The College of Charleston transfer kept telling himself to slow down, to not try and do too much for his new team.
The injury and subsequent reflection might have been the best thing to happen to the Clemson and former Berkeley High standout this season. Brittle has 16 hits in his last 32 at bats, and his return to the top of the lineup has helped the Tigers (19-15, 8-7 ACC) win seven of their last 10 games as they prepare to host No. 22 N.C. State (21-9, 9-6) in a weekend series opening at 6:30 p.m. today.
Clemson has scored seven or more runs in five of its last seven games.
“It might have been a little bit of pressing,” Brittle said of his struggles. “I was trying to make a lot happen. After I got hurt, I wanted to make every at bat count and try to get something done. Just kind of a mental approach of being more relaxed and in the box and try to simplify.”
Brittle’s batting average is up to .330 and he has struck out just 10 times in 100 at bats. Brittle has a sparkling .425 on-base percentage, giving Clemson another table-setter in front of slugger Richie Shaffer.
“He’s swinging the bat good,” coach Jack Leggett said. “He’s got a lot of confidence right now.”
Even when Brittle was scuffling earlier the season, he was still an asset with his speed and defense in center field, but with an improved approach, he has become a key cog in a lineup desperate for offense.
Brittle’s smooth left-handed swing was never an issue, and he said it required no adjustments.
“I like to be still in the box,” Brittle said. “I load my hands and then swing.”
Brittle will need to continue his surge against a quality N.C. State staff that boasts a 3.14 ERA and .220 opponents’ batting average along with 264 strikeouts against 99 walks in 2781/3 innings pitched.
“A lot of guys are starting to swing the bat,” Brittle said. “Everyone is coming together as one and making the team go.”