As Clemson softball kicks off its inaugural season this spring, the Tigers are eager to get out on the field and compete in one of the very best softball conferences in the ACC.
However, the Tigers’ preparation has looked much different than the opposing competition’s. The Clemson softball field has been under construction since last year and Monday marked the first day the team could get in the stadium to practice.
But M.K. Bonamy, who transferred to Clemson from Notre Dame as graduate student, says the team has adapted well and practices hard no matter their circumstances.
“I don’t think (practicing) has been difficult at all,” she said. “We have really good coaches who have been teaching us all of the fundamentals of how they believe and how the program should be run.
“I think everyone has bought in so far. And you really just need grass… that’s all you really need and a glove and a ball,” she said jokingly.
Cammy Pereira, who transferred from Furman University to play her final two years as a Tiger, says she and the rest of the team have been enjoying every moment at Clemson.
“Our coaches made a good point at the beginning of the season that whenever they all started playing baseball in the backyard they just had a bat, ball and glove and that was just fun,” she said. “I think all of us have experienced this game for a long time and just realize that as we start to near the end of our softball careers we just need to focus on having fun and focus on the initial reason of why we started to play softball.”
One of those coaches was head coach John Rittman who came to Clemson after a Hall of Fame career at Stanford. He is also a longtime member of the USA Softball Women’s National Team coaching pool.
“I think it takes a lot of trust in a coach and in a program to be able to come and just use your imagination,” Pereira said. “I think that’s something that Coach Rittman and the rest of the coaching staff made so easy for me, personally.
“Being able to trust him as our leader and trust that he is going to build a program that we can’t see yet. So, I think that speaks to his character and speaks to him as a coach, that he was able to find 17 girls that were willing to look at a field of dirt and say, ‘I want to play for you and I’m going to play on this field.’”
For as long as the team has had to use their imagination as to what it would be like playing softball for Clemson, they won’t have to use it much longer. The end of the massive construction project is near as is first pitch for the 2020 Tigers.
“It’s been cool to see the progress of the stadium come from the ground up,” said Marissa Guimbarda, who also transferred from Furman. “I know all three of us had to use our imaginations when we went on our visits. I was walking on dirt and they were like, ‘This is going to be the locker room and this is going to be the training room.’ And I’m standing there in grass.
“But it’s just been really cool to see every time you walk down to the field there’s always been one more thing put up, bricks put up, the stadium just went up yesterday. We’re going on the field today so it’s just been really cool to see the progression and how quickly the construction has been done.”
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