CLEMSON — It all started with McKenzie Clark.
Clemson’s centerfielder opened the game by lining a base hit to leftfield. Five hits, three home runs and seven runs later, the top-seeded Tigers were well on their way to a 17-2 victory over No. 4 seed UNC Greensboro Friday in the Clemson Regional.
“It was really nice to see our offense come out and explode in the first inning,” Clemson head coach John Rittman said. “It is no secret we have struggled offensively lately, specifically in the ACC Tournament, and for us to come out and swing the bats like we did, that was really impressive. It took a little pressure off everybody.”
The Tigers (47-9) finished the game with 14 hits and four home runs. Caroline Jacobsen blasted a three-run shot in the first inning, while Alia Logoleo immediately followed with a solo home run and Reedy Davenport smacked a two-run shot.
Clemson hit its fourth home run of the afternoon in the third inning, as Maddie Moore blasted a two-run shot to centerfield.
“It started with McKenzie Clark. She has been struggling and pressing. It was just nice to see her get the line drive hit,” Rittman said. “It really just got everyone pumped up and we just exploded from there.”
Jacobsen was definitely feeling the mojo. The right fielder finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBIs, including her three-run homer in the first inning.
“The biggest thing for us is just being on time in our pitch selection and making good decisions at the plate,” Rittman said. “I think all of our hitters did that, we had hitters come off the bench that really excelled as well.
“It is a mindset. Hitting is definitely contagious and it can go in any direction. It is just nice to see us kind of get that weight off our shoulders and explode for a big couple of innings today.”
Besides scoring seven runs in the first inning, Clemson also got two runs in the second and then four runs in both the third and the fourth innings. The only thing that stopped the Tigers was the eight-run mercy rule that comes into play in the fifth inning.
“We kind have been struggling offensively. I think, especially in that first inning and to come out the way we did, that is exactly what we needed,” Davenport said. “In the postseason, you have to be hot to win games. I think that gives us a lot of confidence moving forward. We know we can do it. We can be back to where we were at the beginning of the season.”
The Tigers hope they can keep the good mojo going today when they face second seed Auburn at 1 p.m. from McWhorter Stadium. The SEC’s Tigers run ruled Cal State Fullerton in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional.
“That is a lot of momentum to take into (Saturday) . We are ready to take anything that comes to us,” Jacobsen said.
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