The Clemson Tigers softball team took to the diamond for three games in two days to end the first tournament of the young season.
The Tigers played a doubleheader on Saturday facing Kansas City and Georgia State and ended with a final contest versus the host of the tournament, Florida International, on Sunday.
Let’s take a quick look at how those games ended and shine a light on what was learned from those contests.
Game 1: Clemson vs Kansas City (W 8-1)
The bats continued to remain hot in this contest that started early Saturday morning with the first pitch taking place around 10 o’clock am. The Tigers outhit the Kangaroos from Kansas City 12 to 2 in this game. Kansas City scored first after a walk followed by a sacrifice flyout to open the action in the first inning. That would be the only opportunity to score for Kansas City as the flurry of hits continued for Clemson.
Catcher JoJo Hyatt started behind the plate but it was her offense that sparked the day for the Tigers. She went 3 for 3 on the day with a RBI and scored a run as well. Ally Miklesh and Reedy Davenport turned in solid performances as well, both going 2 for 3 from the plate.
The fourth inning was essential for Clemson scoring three runs in the frame off of a Maddie Moore homer. Pitchers have already taken notice of the strong bat possessed by McKenzie Clark as she drew a walk that loaded the bases allowing Moore to strike the three run homerun, stretching the lead 6 to 1 after the fourth.
Coach Rittman elected to make some changes in the lineup during the sixth inning allowing Marena Knowles, Kyah Keller, Ansley Houston and Morgan Johnson to see action in the game. Knowles came in and tallied her first collegiate hit of her young career with a single. Keller and Houston both drew walks allowing Morgan Johnson to single, bringing in both Keller and Houston to score.
Sophomore Brooke McCubbin started in the pitching circle for the Tigers today turning in a solid effort earning her first victory of 2023. She went 5 innings into the contest with 2 strikeouts before being replaced by Reagan Spencer in the sixth.
Game 2 vs Georgia State (11-3; 6th inning run rule)
Much like the first game of the day, the opposition struck first with holding a 1 to 0 lead after the first inning of play. This would be the only time Georgia State would lead on the day. Hyatt continued her hot streak getting the Tiger’s offense going in the second with a single that scored Kyah Keller and Ally Miklesh who had both reached base on balls.
JoJo Hyatt continued to make her mark on the game with solid defense behind the plate. That defense translated into offense as Valerie Cagle led off with a double and Caroline Jacobsen singled up the middle. With two outs, Miklesh drew a walk to load the bases and bring Hyatt back to the plate. Hyatt continued to shine and drove a hard hit ball at the Panthers’ third baseman for a two-RBI single bringing home Ansley Houston, who pinch ran for Cagle, and Jacobsen. Knowles was inserted into the lineup and pinch hit for Davenport in the ninth spot of the batting order. Knowles flashed her potential and knocked a hit into left field to score Miklesh and make it 5-1 after three.
The fourth inning was fruitful for the Tigers as they scored 3 runs in the frame. Valerie Cagle started the action with a single followed with a double by Caroline Jacobsen placing runners on the corners for Clemson. Alia Logolelo reached base on an error allowing Cagle to score. Logolelo stole second putting herself in scoring position along with Jacobsen at third. Kyah Keller hit a ball deep to center field for a sac fly allowing Jacobsen and Logolelo to score making it 8 to 1 at the end of the fourth inning.
Georgia State would strike back in the top of the sixth inning scoring 2 runs cutting the Tiger lead making the score 8 to 3. Redshirt freshman Jadeyn Ruszkowski was inserted to the lineup and pinch hit a single that loaded the bases following a walk from Keller and a single from Miklesh. JoJo Hyatt ended her phenomenal day with a walk off 3 RBI single to end the game.
Junior Milie Thompson pitched a complete game striking out four batters on the day earning her second victory of the year.
Game 3 vs Florida International
The bats cooled off in the final game of the Felsberg Invitational versus host Florida International. Valerie Cagle’s performance from the pitching circle was the story of the day as she struck out 11 in a complete game effort. The 11 strikeouts today brings her total to 27 on the year, something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. Florida International hitters never seemed to catch up to Cagle as she held the Panthers to only 5 hits all game.
It wasn’t until the 4th inning that the action picked up with the Tigers scoring the only run of the frame. Valerie Cagle helped her own cause from the batter’s box with a lead off double to start who was subsequently substituted for pinch runner Julia Bomhardt. Caroline Jacobsen hit a sacrifice fly bringing in Bomhardt to score, breaking up the scoreless tie.
The Tigers would wake up in the 5th inning scoring 3 runs on 4 hits. Kyah Keller started things off by reaching base on a single to right center field. McKenzie Clark kept things going with a single of her own. A piece of timely hitting from Maddie Moore would follow via a double that scored Keller and Clark stretching the lead making it 3 to 0. Cagle would single next, bringing in Moore from second base for the game’s 4th and final run.
Stellar defense closed out the final 2 innings with 2 more strikeouts as well as a double play initiated by Valerie Cagle. The do-it-all star for Clemson continues to show why her name is on countless watchlists for a litany of awards this season.
The Clemson softball team takes the diamond next against Furman for a matchup Tuesday February 14th at 5pm. The Tigers look to continue their hot start before playing host to Northwestern and Ohio State as part of the ACC/BIG 10 Challenge this upcoming weekend.