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Paws up, paws down: Clemson softball in Clemson Classic

Max Knipstein, Contributor

Clemson pitcher Valerie Cagle (72) prepares to hit against Boston in the Clemson Classic tournament on Feb. 26, 2022.

Clemson softball came into the weekend (7-3), but after winning the Clemson Classic tournament on Saturday, the team can now reflect on the weekend’s successes and failures.  

Paws up: McKenzie Clark

Outfielder McKenzie Clark continued improving her batting career this weekend.  

In the first game of the weekend against Boston, Clark delivered one of the eight runs for the game. She also finished with two runs batted in (RBI) in this game.  

Most notably, Clark hit the program’s first inside the park home run against Akron on Saturday. This happened directly after Clemson’s Aby Vieira hit a grand slam in the second inning.  

Clark faced Boston again in the tournament championship game, where she had one hit and one run for the Tigers. She currently holds a .267 batting average and a .400 slugging percentage. 

Still, despite her performance this weekend, Clark credited her younger teammates.  

“[The freshman class] is coming a long way,” she said. “It’s so exciting to watch them play and succeed.” 

Paws down: Clemson vs. Akron 

Despite the 10-5 win the Tigers had over Akron on Saturday, it was the first game in the tournament in which the Tigers let up runs.  

Clemson Pitcher Brooke McCubbin held the circle for the first four innings, allowing just three hits.  

However, reliever Rachel Gibson let up four earned runs and didn’t record an out when she arrived in the fifth inning.  

Emma Whitfield came in to take over for Gibson. Whitfield finished out the fifth inning allowing the last run for Akron.  

To start the sixth, pitcher Valerie Cagle entered the circle. Cagle pitched the final two innings and finished with three strikeouts, the third of which ended the game. 

Paws up: McWhorter Stadium’s home field advantage 

The conclusion of the tournament against Boston allotted for the Tigers’ 20th consecutive win at McWhorter Stadium. This streak dates back to March 27 of the 2021 season.  

This follows a (7-3) record on the road from the season opener, bumping up to now (11-3) for the season.  

“We made some growth in a lot of areas,” said Clemson head coach John Rittman after the tournament. “Offensively, a lot of things happened this weekend. A lot of people stepped up in different situations.”  

With the next four games being at home, the Tigers will have the opportunity to further extend the streak.  

Paws down: Tigers unable to keep Boston scoreless

In the first game of the Classic, Clemson left Boston scoreless.  

Winning 8-0 in that game, Clemson faced Boston again in the tournament championship, where the results differed. 

By the fourth inning of the championship, the Terriers remained scoreless throughout the weekend against the Tigers. With just one hit prior to the fourth inning and one out on the scoreboard, Boston went without a run for the remainder of the inning.  

However, Clemson starting pitcher, Millie Thompson allowed for two base hits. With a player on third and first, Boston’s Kate Pryor singled through the circle, and Thompson missed the grounded ball. Pryor’s single allowed for her teammate, Kayla Roncin, to score.   

In the sixth inning, Nicole Amodio delivered a scoreboard-hitting homer for Boston. This was Boston’s second and last run of the game.  

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