Another week, another milestone for the Clemson softball program, this time with a three-game sweep of ACC opponent Virginia.
The Tigers’ series win over the Cavaliers marks the first ACC sweep in the program’s inaugural season. Clemson’s stellar hitting and great pitching allowed them to pick up its three victories this weekend, which extended the Tigers’ winning streak to six games.
Clemson’s weekend started in style in game one on Friday night. The Tigers trailed 3-0 in the fourth inning when Clemson put up four runs in the inning, including junior left fielder Grace Mattimore’s two-run double that at the time tied the game at three. Virginia would respond with a four-run inning of its own in the top of the fifth.
Trailing 7-4, the Tigers began to chip away at the Cavalier’s lead. A bases-loaded walk brought one run home in the fifth inning, cutting the Virginia lead to two runs. In the sixth inning, Clemson loaded the bases again, and redshirt freshman catcher JoJo Hyatt singled to score a run, giving the Cavaliers just a one-run lead. The Tigers would tie the game during the next at-bat on a fielder’s choice that scored redshirt senior first baseman MK Bonamy.
Clemson and Virginia entered the seventh inning tied at seven. After the Tigers held the Cavaliers off the scoreboard in the top half of the inning, Clemson came to bat in the bottom of the inning with a chance to win the game. After a double-play wiped out a runner on base, freshman pitcher/center fielder Valerie Cagle stepped up to the plate. With a 3-0 count, the freshman drilled a pitch to right-center field that the ballpark would not hold, and the Tigers walked away with their first-ever walk-off victory, 8-7.
After a thrilling game one win, Clemson and Virginia squared off again on Saturday for game two. The Tigers started scoring early, with four runs in the opening inning that was capped off by junior third baseman Bailey Taylor’s RBI single.
Virginia would eventually tie the game in the third inning, but Bonamy’s RBI single in the bottom of the third would give Clemson the lead, one that it would not relinquish. The Tigers extended their lead in the fourth inning on Cagle’s two-run double to left-center field and freshman shortstop Hannah Goodwin’s fielder’s choice that scored Cagle.
Up 8-4 in the fifth, redshirt freshman pitcher Logan Caymol shut down the Cavalier bats’, giving way to freshman pitcher Emma Whitfield in the seventh inning, who shut down Virginia to clinch the victory for the Tigers. The win secured Clemson’s first ever ACC series victory, but that was not all for the Tigers this weekend.
Sunday afternoon featured a dominant performance from the Clemson hitters. With a tie game at one apiece in the third inning, the Tiger offense came alive, starting with a three-run homer from Bonamy to put Clemson up 4-1. A few batters later, Cagle broke the game open with a grand slam to center field, her second homer of the weekend, to give the Tigers an 8-1 lead. The Cavaliers responded with two runs in the sixth inning, but it was not enough. After an RBI single from Mattimore extended the Clemson lead to 9-3, Cagle once again shined at the plate, knocking a three-run homer over the left-center field wall to give the Tigers a 12-3 lead. Due to the run-rule in softball, the game ended after Cagle’s homer, giving Clemson the victory and its first ACC sweep.
The Tigers showed their power over the weekend and could not have started the ACC slate any better. Head Coach John Rittman has to be pleased with what he saw from his team this weekend.
Clemson (14-7, 3-0 ACC) will now host Charlotte in a doubleheader on Wednesday. Game one is set for 3 p.m., and game two will follow.