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Cagle leads Tigers past Tar Heels in extras, Clemson advances in ACC Championship

Aralynn Minnick // Asst. Photo Editor

Clemson pitcher Valerie Cagle on the mound against South Carolina in March.

In a pitching duel between Clemson and North Carolina that went into extras, Valerie Cagle and the Tigers came out on top 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship to advance to the semis.

As Cagle and North Carolina pitcher Lilli Backes limited any scoring opportunities through the first seven innings, Cagle and the Tigers’ defense forced the Tar Heels’ offense off the field in the top of the eighth.

As Clemson went on offense and Cagle waited on deck, left fielder Ally Miklesh hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth to put the Tigers in scoring position. After Backes intentionally walked Cagle, Miklesh advanced to third on a passed ball. Miklesh then scored on a wild pitch to give the Tigers the victory. 

Cagle had one of her best performances in the circle this season, recording 12 strikeouts and giving up just three hits in 8.0 innings pitched. Time after time, the two-time ACC Player of the Year gave the Tar Heels fits at the plate. 

“I would say for the first time this year everything was working for me in the circle,” Cagle told ACC Network after the game. “But I also had great defense behind me, and JoJo Hyatt did a great job behind the plate, which allowed me to be comfortable and throw my pitches.”

Along with the game-winning run, Miklesh had two of the team’s four hits and the only RBI. 

The Tigers struck first blood in the bottom of the third when Miklesh hit a single up the middle to bring Ansley Houston home for the game’s first score. North Carolina got on the board in the next inning and tied up the game heading into the bottom of the fourth.

Ultimately, however, the Tigers did just enough to come away with the narrow win in extra innings. 

With the win, the Tigers will play Duke in the semifinals on Friday at 1:30 p.m. EDT in hopes of reaching their third consecutive ACC Championship game. 

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Justin Robertson
Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
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