Tigers win first game in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
For the first three innings Friday, Clemson struggled to figure out Maryland pitcher Courtney Wyche as the Terrapin struck out seven batters by throwing mostly in the 70s. However, Marissa Guimbarda got the Tigers going in the fourth when she led off the inning with a home run to centerfield.
From there, Clemson added three more hits and scored two more runs to take control of the game.
The three runs were all pitcher Valerie Cagle needed as Clemson beat the Terrapins, 5-1, in the first game of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the Clemson Softball Stadium.
“It was a great win for us today,” Clemson head coach John Rittman said.
The Tigers (4-4) added another run from JoJo Hyatt in the bottom of the fifth inning to help Cagle improve her record to 2-3 on the season. Cagle went the distance in the circle, finishing the game with eight strikeouts and three walks. She gave up the one run off seven hits, but she did allowed just one after the fourth inning.
“It definitely gave me a lot of confidence knowing they had my back,” Cagle said. “Any jams I get into, my defense and my hitters are going to get me out of it.”
Maryland (1-5) took its 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Taylor Liguori brought Regan Kerr home on a fielder’s choice.
“It was a rocky first inning,” Rittman said. “We got ourselves into a jam with bases loaded and no outs and decided to play the middle infield back and hoped to get a double play out of it. Valerie did a great job getting us a ground ball and we are able to turn two and got out of that first inning only giving up one run.”
Wyche held Clemson to one hit through the first three innings, but Guimbarda got the Tigers going with her solo shot to center to start the fourth. Alia Logoleo then tripled to right center to score Carlee Shannon and later came home when Hyatt hit a successful suicide squeeze for a 3-1 lead.
“I think the second time through the lineup we settled down and really started zoning in on her pitches that were down and not chasing the up stuff,” Rittman said. “We put a little pressure on her and things worked out for us.”
With the bases load and two outs, Hyatt singled through the right side in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Ariella Oda to add to the Tigers’ lead at 4-1. Hyatt finished the afternoon with two hits and two RBIs, while Hannah Goodwin was 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.
Goodwin’s RBI came in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring Grace Mattimore for the final run of the game. Clemson finished the day with nine hits and won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
“It definitely builds our confidence. It just gives us a little kick in the butt to keep it going. Let’s go,” Hyatt said. “Keep striving for the win and keep getting those at-bats and keeping the defense strong.”
Clemson will play Maryland, again, at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.