Future Still Looks Bright for Clemson Softball

Despite losing 2-0 to Oklahoma in the Super Regional Round of the NCAA Softball Tournament this past weekend, McKenzie Clark believes Clemson took away more positives than negatives. She also feels the future for Clemson Softball is as bright as it ever has been.

The Tigers, who finished the season 48-12, scored more runs on the Sooners than any team this season. Prior to last Saturday, no team scored five runs against Oklahoma. Clemson put up seven and had a three-run lead, and twice had the Sooners down to their last strike.

“I learned it is possible to almost upset someone,” she said. “It’s possible to score seven on them after they just hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning. I don’t know a lot of teams that would take that and would come back with more hits.”

Clemson trailed the almost unbeatable Sooners 4-0 when Maddie Moore smacked a three-run bomb to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning. Clark then launched a two-run shot to centerfield in the fifth inning that gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead.

They added two more runs in the same inning to extend their lead to 7-4, causing every softball fan across the country to wonder if Clemson was going to do the unthinkable and beat Oklahoma. To that point, the Sooners had won 47 consecutive games and during the stretch no one has been close to beating them.

“We showed up today. I can’t be more proud,” Clark said.  

John Rittman was proud, too.

“When we got to this Regional, I thought we were sent here for a reason,” the Clemson coach said. “I didn’t know if it was an upset this year or to build from this year. I appreciate the opportunity to be in a Super Regional. It is just so tough to get here now with all the parity in softball.”

The Tigers ultimately lost the game 8-7 in extra innings. The Sooners tied the game with a three-run home run in the seventh inning from Kinzie Hansen to force extras. Then Tiare Jennings hit the game-winner in the ninth inning with a solo shot to centerfield.

Oklahoma (56-1) advances to Women’s College World Series this week, while the Tigers season comes to an end.

“I am just really proud of our program and just how far we have come in a short amount of time,” Rittman said. “We had some great performances today. Great performances. We are going to build off of those going into next year.”

And they are going to be better for it.

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