Clemson softball recorded another program first in its inaugural season on Wednesday night with a win in its first matchup with a ranked team.
The Tigers hung four runs in the fourth inning and defeated No. 14 Georgia 4-1 in front of a fired-up crowd at Clemson Softball Stadium.
After it managed just one hit in the first three innings off Bulldog pitcher Mary Wilson Avant the Tigers racked up six straight base hits to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 advantage it maintained the rest of the game.
Clemson head coach John Rittman told members of the media after the game how important a win over a quality team is for a first year program.
“Obviously this is huge for our program, to beat a top 15 team in your first year as a program is pretty spectacular,” Rittman said. “I told our team that we can compete with anybody and it’s just a matter of us improving game to game while working hard and believing in each other.”
Valerie Cagle (6-6) earned the win in the circle with a complete game as she allowed just one run on three hits and an error with the only run scoring on a passed ball. In fact, the ball only got out of the infield once against Cagle on Wednesday.
Cagle attributed her success in the circle to the play of her teammates.
“I was just hitting my spots and locating pitches while mixing speeds,” Cagle said. “JoJo did a really good job behind the plate, our infield really ate up those ground balls and the outfield did what they needed too.”
Georgia (15-4) struck first after a pair of mutually scoreless innings with a run off a passed ball that brought Savana Sikes home to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the third inning.
Clemson (11-7) seized control of the game in the fourth inning with a breakout inning that saw six hits and four runs and a Bulldog error. After a strikeout, the Tigers laced six straight singles to plate four and take a 4-1 lead.
Cagle got the ball rolling with a base hit and Marissa Guimbarda followed with a base hit to put two runners on for Hannah Goodwin. Goodwin singled to get Cagle across and tie the game at one before a throwing error moved Goodwin and Guimbarda to second and third. MK Bonamy took full advantage of the mistake with a two RBI single down the right field line to put Clemson up 3-1 as both Goodwin and Guimbarda came home.
Alia Logoleo continued the trend with a single down the left field line that sent Bonamy to second. JoJo Hyatt grabbed the inning’s final RBI on a single through the right side that scored Bonamy from second and gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Clemson returns to action this weekend as it hosts Virginia for a three game series that begins at 6 p.m. to open ACC play.