CLEMSON, S.C.- Caden Grice's season hasn't gone quite like most envisioned it would.
Grice earned freshman All-American and second-team All-ACC honors in 2021 after hitting .317 with 15 home runs and 53 RBI. He led the Tigers in runs (40), homers, RBI, total bases (115), slugging percentage (.618), on-base percentage (.427) and multiple-RBI games (14).
After so much production as a freshman, big things were expected in 2022. However, Grice has seen his share of ups and downs in his second season with the program. While he has hit 12 home runs and driven in 40 runs, Grice is hitting just .250 on the season and has struck out 91 times in his 212 at-bats.
After starting the season hitting in the cleanup spot, Grice has spent most of the second half of the season hitting in the bottom third of the order. In recent games, he's been hitting in the nine-hole. something head coach Monte Lee said was done to take some of the pressure off.
"Sometimes bumping a guy down in the order helps tremendously because it takes some of the pressure off of him as a player," Lee said after Clemson's series-opening win over Boston College. "You know, that's all that I'm really trying to do is put him in a position to be successful."
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On Thursday night Grice responded, and in a big way. The sophomore slugger went 3-4 and drove in two runs, including a long home run in the third inning that tied the game at 1-1. The performance came in arguably the Tigers' biggest game of the season, as Clemson is fighting for its postseason life.
"Maybe the best game of anybody on the field tonight," Lee said. "Three hits, drove in two, a big home run. Made a great play, robbed a home run in centerfield. He played a well of a baseball game tonight. Even finished the game with a really nice play at first base."
Whether he's hitting at the top of the order or the bottom of the order, Grice is focused on just one thing, helping his team win.
"It doesn't matter where I'm at as long as I get a chance to compete," Grice said. "Like I said earlier, it's just about helping my guys win and if that means I'm at the bottom of the order, that means I'm at the bottom of the order."
In fact, Grice acknowledged that the move down in the order has indeed taken some of the pressure off, and with that, he's starting to have more fun.
"Honestly, it's less stress at the nine spot," Grice said. "But you know, just going out there and having fun with everybody is the biggest thing. I've felt really relaxed the last few weeks but I mean tonight was all about having fun and just winning the ballgame."