CLEMSON — Things were getting a little dicey for the Clemson softball team Sunday evening.
After being eliminated from the ACC semifinals by Duke Friday night, some wondered if the Tigers did enough in the regular season to earn a host site in the NCAA Tournament. After starting the season 37-1, they lost eight of their last 17 games, including four of their last six.
“As they kept mentioning names, it is kind of nerve racking. It’s never boring, that’s for sure,” Clemson head coach John Rittman said.
Clemson’s name did not get mentioned until the very end, finally coming up as the No. 16 national seed, the last host site announced.
“It took a long time for our nerves to calm because we were the last seed,” shortstop Alia Logoleo said. “So, it was very nerve racking. We had no idea. Every time we saw a team that was kind of close to us, ‘We were like, Oh Gosh! Is this us! Where are we going? What are we doing?’
“But when our named popped out, we were just so happy to be at home for another weekend.”
Clemson, the No. 1 seed in the Clemson Regional, will play No. 4 seed UNC-Greensboro Friday at 3 p.m., in Game 1 of the regional. Auburn, the No. 2 seed, will play three-seed Cal State Fullerton in Game 2 at 5:30 p.m.
This is the third straight season the Tigers have been selected to the NCAA Tournament, and their second straight year as a host site. The winner of the Clemson Regional will advance to a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional against the winner of the Norman (Okla.) Regional between May 25-28.
The Oklahoma Sooners are the No. 1 overall seed.
The Women’s College World Series will be played in Oklahoma City, Okla., June 1-9.
“It is daunting, but at the same time we kind of started this program on the mantra that ‘We were going to shock the world.’ Certainly, you can’t look past this Regional. We have to get out of this Regional and then we can worry about Oklahoma,” Rittman said. “But what a great opportunity at the same time. If you are a program that is built on the mantra of ‘Shocking the World’ that would be a great way to do it.”
As for the Clemson Regional, the Tigers are very familiar with two of the three teams coming to Clemson. The Tigers beat UNC-Greensboro 3-0 on March 10 and 6-1 on March 11 as part of the Clemson Classic, which was held at McWhorter Stadium.
“It helps that we have already played them,” right fielder Caroline Jacobsen said. “We know their pitching and they know our pitching. I am sure they kind of feel the same way in that sense. But we are going to take it game by game and be ready to face each one of them.”
Clemson also faced Auburn in the Clemson Regional last year. Clemson beat the SEC Tigers 1-0 in Game 4 of last year’s regional.
“I expect (Auburn) to be a similar game as last year, a pitchers duel,” Logoleo said. “They have a lot of strong players on their team, but we do as well, and our defense is going to help us out a lot in that game.
“I am ready for us to get dirty and hopefully, score more runs than they do.”
Game 1: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 UNC-Greensboro, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 2: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 3 Cal State Fullerton, 5:30 p.m.
Game 3: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 (elimination game)
Game 4: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Game 5: Loser of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 3 (elimination game)
Game 6: Winner of Game 5 vs. Game 4 winner
Game 7: If necessary
–photo courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications
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