Clemson opens new season this weekend.
Clemson launched its softball program with an impressive inaugural season last year, as it finished with a 19-8 overall mark, including a 5-1 record in ACC play before the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short.
The Tigers thrived behind ace-pitcher Valerie Cagle and a solid stall of arms that kept their opponents at bay. They finished the season with a 2.74 ERA and 1.22 WHIP behind three freshman pitchers in Cagle, Logan Caymol and Emma Whitfield.
Clemson head coach John Rittman told The Clemson Insider last week, Cagle is still the team’s ace, but he is excited to watch his young team compete in the circle.
“She is a tremendous gifted athlete from an offensive standpoint, defensive standpoint and a pitching standpoint,” he said. “Valerie is still our number one and we look for her to lead us in the circle.”
On Monday, Softball America named Cagle a Second-Team Preseason All-American after she received preseason All-ACC honors last week. Cagle appeared in 19 games with 13 starts last season, including a 2.19 ERA, 87 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 89.2 innings pitched last season.
Whitfield and Caymol were impressive in their own right last season and Rittman looks forward to benefiting from an extra year of experience under their belt this season.
“We had two other freshmen that had significant time in Logan Caymol and Emma Whitfield,” he said. “They are a year more experienced and we look for them to help us out.”
Caymol finished the year 7-2 in 12 starts and 14 appearances with a 3.5 ERA, 63 strikeouts, 28 walks and a no-hitter against Western Carolina in 58 innings pitched. Whitfield went 3-0 in two starts with a 3.30 ERA, 17 strikeouts and 10 walks in 11 appearances.
Clemson also added three freshman pitchers in its most recent signing class that ranked No. 12 in the nation and Rittman thinks the new arms add impressive depth to the bullpen.
“Then we have the addition of three freshman pitchers in Regan Spencer, Millie Thompson and Carsten Puckett,” he said. “I think our pitching staff is relatively young but we have different looks we can throw at teams. Thompson is a lefty and Spencer is another right hander that has shown she can do some nice things for us.”
The most impressive note about the Tigers’ juiced up pitching staff is the complimentary nature of the young pitching staff. Rittman hopes to utilize different looks to keep opposing batters off balance this season.
“The biggest thing is our pitchers compliment each other very well and we look to get the most out of them this season,” Rittman said.
Clemson opens up the season in the River City Leadoff tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. this weekend with games against Illinois State, North Florida and Jacksonville.