Today marks a historical day in Clemson Athletics.
Clemson will field its first ever softball team Friday morning when it plays St. Johns at 10 a.m., on the campus of Central Florida University at the Knight’s Softball Complex in Orlando.
“There has been so much that has taken place in the last two years to get ready for the start of the 2020 season,” Clemson coach John Rittman said. “To see it all come together is a really gratifying experience and I look forward to the season.”
The Tigers are scheduled to play Duke, Indiana, UCF and then a rematch with St. Johns in the three-day tournament.
Friday’s matchup against the Red Storm, which is scheduled to be followed by Clemson’s second matchup of the day versus Duke at 12:30 p.m., marks 1,060 days since Clemson University Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich announced the launch of the softball program on March 14, 2017.
A lot has happened since then. First Radakovich hired Rittman as its head coach, who started building the program from the inside out. After hiring his coaching staff, they started to build their team and then they built a brand new state-of-the-art softball facility that can rival with anyone’s in the country.
“I think it is an awesome feeling for (our players),” Rittman said. “They were all recruited here to be a part of something special and to help build something. They know they are making history and they will be a part of history and they are going to be pioneers sort of speak of Clemson softball. So, they are really looking forward to the season starting. They have put a lot of hard work and effort to getting to this point.
“They can see the light and the end of this tunnel and we are getting ready to roll.”
The Tigers will play a total of five games at the tournament in Orlando before returning to Clemson to host its inaugural home opener, a double header against Western Carolina on Wednesday.
“It is going to be a very challenging tournament for us the first week of the season,” Rittman said. “We feel like going to Florida and playing at a stadium at UCF is going to be good before we open up at home. We have some very tough competition. We don’t play Duke this year in the ACC schedule so playing an ACC opponent the first weekend is going to be a big challenge for us.
“Indiana just missed postseason play last year. They were right on the bubble. They are a quality opponent. Central Florida is a team that always finishes in the upper part of their conference and then St. John’s is from the Big East that has been to the postseason. So, we are looking to play some teams that have a lot of history and a lot of tradition. It will be a good start for us.”
Clemson’s roster consists of a total of 18 players and is represented by six different states: Georgia (7), South Carolina (4), North Carolina (2), Alabama (2), Tennessee (2) and Virginia (2).
The Tigers’ 2020 roster consists of six transfers in MK Bonamy (Notre Dame), Cammy Pereira (Furman), Marissa Guimbarda (Furman), Bailey Taylor (Troy), Grace Mattimore (Army West Point) and Ansley Gilstrap (USC Upstate), who will miss the 2020 season due to injury.
“We are a young team, but we have been blessed with a few transfer student athletes that are going to help us with leadership and providing us with that valuable experience that they have all played Division I softball,” Rittman said.
Four redshirt freshmen in Carlee Shannon, Jojo Hyatt, Arielle Oda and Logan Caymol are also on the team, while eight true freshmen in Abi Stuart, Madison May, Alia Logoleo, Morgan Johnson, Kyah Keller, Valerie Cagle and Hannah Goodwin round out the Tigers’ roster.
UCF Black & Gold Tournament Schedule
|Friday||Feb. 7||St. John’s||N/A||10 a.m.|
|Friday||Feb. 7||Duke||N/A||12:30 p.m.|
|Saturday||Feb. 8||Indiana||N/A||11:30 a.m.|
|Saturday||Feb. 8||at UCF||UCFKnights.TV||3:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||Feb. 9||St. John’s||N/A||9 a.m.|