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Softball falls to Virginia Tech in ACC opener

Aralynn Minnick, Contributor

Clemson softball outfielder Sam Russ (3) dives for a catch against Virginia Tech on March 4, 2022.

No. 14 Clemson was defeated by No. 6 Virginia Tech, 6-1, in game one of Clemson’s first ACC Conference series of the season.  

Starting pitcher Valerie Cagle struck out two of the four batters faced and walked another in the top of the first inning.  

At bat, McKenzie Clark managed a walk to first, then advanced to second when Cagle delivered a single to right field. The Hokies defense then caught a ground ball hit by Marissa Guimbarda and threw to first, concluding the inning. 

Clemson had no hits or runs in the bottom half of the second inning with Virginia Tech’s pitcher Keely Rochard throwing two strikeouts in a row.   

By the end of the third, both teams remained scoreless.   

Looking to put runs on the board, the Hokies managed three singles with their first three batters in the fourth. With bases loaded, the pressure increased on Cagle. The pitcher then walked in a run, putting the Hokies in the lead. 

In the same inning, Hokies’ Jayme Bailey hit a home run to center field, bringing in four more runs. The following three batters also managed base hits, bringing in another Hokie, Mackenzie Lawter, to score.  

With Clemson now trailing by six, Regan Spencer came into the circle to relieve Cagle. Cagle finished with a 3.04 earned run average (ERA) with the nineteen batters faced in her three innings. 

“[Cagle] had just one tough inning and sometimes that’s all it takes,” Clemson head coach John Rittman said at the conclusion of the match up. 

The Hokies offense went on to achieve two more hits, but a catch in far left field by Clemson outfielder Sam Russ finally ended the top of the fourth.  

No runs or hits were obtained by either Clemson or Virginia Tech in the bottom fourth and top fifth, respectively.  

At the plate, Clemson catcher JoJo Hyatt hit a single to right field, with outfielder Carlee Shannon coming in to pinch run for Hyatt. Shannon stole second on a passed ball.  

Back to the top of the batting order, Russ was walked to first by Rochard. Cagle returned to the game following a Clark strikeout but was out on a pass to first base. 

With Clemson lagging behind, Spencer remained in the circle for the remainder of the game. The sophomore did not falter in the final two innings, keeping her ERA at zero, and letting up just one hit in the sixth. She threw 64 total pitches, 40 of which were strikes.  

Rochard pitched the 5.2 innings for the Hokies, obtaining an ERA of 1.24 alongside her six strikeouts.   

She was relieved by Ivy Rosenberry, who struck out Alia Logoleo to end the sixth inning. Rosenberry walked Kyah Keller who went on to steal second in the seventh.  

Clemson challenged one of the last few plays of the game, in which Russ hit a single but was called out at first. Clemson won the challenge, bringing Clark to the plate with Keller at third and Russ at first.  

Clark grounded to third, bringing Keller in to score the Tigers’ only run. In the next at bat, Cagle would ground out to end the game.  

Despite a home field advantage, the Tigers finished with just four hits for the game. This loss ended the 21 consecutive game streak that the Tigers have won at home.   

The Tigers have the chance to redeem themselves with the two remaining games of the series which are to be played on March 5 and 6 at McWhorter Stadium. 

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