Clemson star Kris Harvey recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Harvey, who pithces and plays outfield and infield, is a returning junior for head coach Jack Leggett's Tigers. After being named First Team All-ACC following the 2004 season, the North Carolina native was recently one of only fifty-eight players nation-wide named to the 2005 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List.
The Tigers have gotten off to a 5-4 start, including a big 14-3 win at Auburn this past Sunday. On the season thus far, Harvey is hitting .265 with a double, a pair of homeruns, and ten runs batted in. In three starts on the hill, Harvey has compiled a 5.17 ERA and a 2-1 record. In 15-plus innings pitched, the junior has struck out 16 and walked just three.
KRIS HARVEY, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: Coming out of Bandys High School in Catawba, North Carolina, you were selected in the 5th round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves. How tempting was it to turn pro right out of high school, and what factors made you decide to attend college?
Harvey: "It was a very difficult decision to make, especially because everyone in my area is a huge Braves fan, and I would have had the opportunity to hit, which I was looking forward to. Before the Draft, I sat down with my father, and we made guidelines to go by to make my decision easier. We decided it would be in my best interest to attend school if I didn't get drafted in the first three rounds, and that ended up being the deciding factor in my decision."
SCS.com: Once you did decide to attend college, what other schools did you consider, and why did you ultimately choose Clemson?
Harvey: "I had only been on two other visits before Clemson, Spartenburg Methodist and Louisburg, both JUCO's. I only had one offer, and it was JUCO. I really wanted to go to a big D-I school that had a great chance of going to Omaha."
SCS.com: Your father Bryan was a pitcher in the Major Leagues. How much of an influence has he had on your career on the field, and what advice did he give you as you were making your decision coming out of high school?
Harvey: "He has had a huge influence on my career. He basically taught me everything that I know about the game, and I grew up in big league club houses. He sat down with me before the Draft, and we decided on a cut-off round where we thought it would be better for me to go to school."
SCS.com: You came in and made an impact at Clemson right away. As a true freshman, you compiled a 4-1 record on the hill, starting six games and making seven relief appearances. You had just 29 at-bats in 2003 but had two homeruns and 11 RBIs. What was the key to your early success as just a freshman in a conference as tough as the ACC?
Harvey: "I think the biggest thing that helped me was the intersquad scrimmages we had in the fall and spring. We had some very good pitchers, and that experience carried over to the season, which I think helped a lot. Same thing with the pitching aspect of it: we had some very good hitters, and you learn quickly when you're getting hit around in practice."
SCS.com: As a sophomore last season, you were a star at the plate and on the mound. You played all over the place, earning outfield, infield, and pitching starts. In fourteen starts on the hill, you compiled a 6-0 record, struck out 52, and allowed the opposition to hit just .293 against you. At the plate, you hit for a .335 average, slammed eight homeruns, and had a .526 slugging percentage. Do you feel your knowledge and success at the plate allows you to be more successful as a pitcher, or is it the other way around?
Harvey: "I think it works both ways. As a hitter, you know what pitches are the most difficult to hit, and as a pitcher, you know what sequences you use to set up hitters and what pitches you look for in different counts and different situations."
SCS.com: Following the 2004 season, you were named First Team All-ACC by the league. How honored are you to be compared to the best in the ACC, especially since that conference is one of the best in the entire country?
Harvey: "It's an unbelievable honor. I was very surprised to hear my name called out last spring at the ACC banquet. To be put in the same category as the other players on the team is amazing."
SCS.com: Last season was a huge success for the Tigers. Clemson went 39-26 overall and 14-10 in the league. The team really got hot in Regional play and advanced to the championship round of the Athens Regional on Sunday. After forcing a second game with a 10-9 win in Sunday's first game, the Tigers fell to Georgia 7-6 in ten innings and were eliminated. How disappointing was the ending to last season, and will that motivate you and the team heading into 2005?
Harvey: "The way the season ended last year was very disappointing. It felt like Georgia ripped our heart right from our chest. We were three outs from advancing to the Super Regional, and we had played our hearts out all day. Hopefully this year we can get this chip off our shoulder and advance (farther) on in the postseason."
SCS.com: You have participated in the NCAA Tournament twice since you have been on campus. Compare the intensity of postseason baseball to that of the regular season.
Harvey: "Postseason baseball is a great experience. The intestity that both teams bring to the field is amazing. Of course with Coach Leggett in our dugout, our team is always very intense, but come playoff time when it's do or die, it raises the bar to another level."
SCS.com: The expectations are high for Clemson again this season. The team has been ranked number twenty-one in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll and number twenty-three in the Sports Weekly/ESPN preseason poll. Several of the team's top players return, and there's a talented group of newcomers on their way in as well. How do you deal with the high expectations, and what goals has the team set for 2005?
Harvey: "It doesn't really matter what people think about our team before the season, whether it be good or bad. We have to go out and prove ourselves and earn the respect we deserve by playing hard and winning games. We can't put pressure on ourselves; we have to stay loose and go out and play the best that we can and have fun."
SCS.com: The ACC is one of the toughest conferences in the country. Playing at Clemson allows you to visit some of the nation's nicest ballparks. Since you have been on campus, the Tigers have traveled to places like Texas Tech, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Auburn, and Florida State. Of the places you have visited while at Clemson, which two or three stand out the most, and which trip on this year's schedule do you have circled on your calendar?
Harvey: "I enjoy playing at FSU. They have a very nice facility and always draw very good crowds that really get involved in the game. Same with Georgia Tech: they have a very nice place to play, but I think my favorite is Auburn. They draw great crowds and have an unbelievable park. It's very original with the big wall in left, and the fans over the right field wall. That's the place I'm looking forward to going to again."
SCS.com: Playing on the road can be interesting, but there's nothing like taking the field in front of the home fans. Clemson's Doug Kinsmore Stadium is one of the nicest in the country. Baseball America ranks it number sixteen in all of America. Recent renovations have made it even better, and now over 6,000 fans can take in Tiger baseball. What is the biggest advantage to playing at home, and as a player, do you actually hear or pay attention to the crowd while you are on the field?
Harvey: "It's difficult not to hear the fans when you play at home because they really get into the game and get very loud. They never let you lose your confidence because they are always behind you. Also with the cheap seats out in right field, those guys are awesome. I would hate to play right field against Clemson; those guys never leave you alone. It's great!"
SCS.com: Your head coach, Jack Leggett, is in his 11th season on campus, and he should reach the 500-win mark sometime this season. He has led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament every season he has been there, and the Tigers have taken four trips to the College World Series under his guidance. Only three teams in the country have won more games than CU since Leggett has been on campus. What makes Coach Leggett such a success, and how does he continually get the great talent to attend Clemson?
Harvey: "His intensity is unmatched by anyone that I have ever seen. His work ethic is remarkable. He has a huge heart and an amazing love for the game of baseball. He will never quit or give in regardless of the situation. I have greatly enjoyed playing for Coach Leggett these three years."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to on the field and one person you admire off the field?
Harvey: "My father would have to be the person that I look up to the most on and off the field because of all that he has done and everything he has taught me about baseball and about life."
SCS.com would again like to thank Clemson's Kris Harvey for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Tigers the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
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