After a long offseason, Clemson softball is ready to take to the diamond in the River City Leadoff Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. this weekend.
The Tigers will start the season by playing Illinois State at noon on Friday.
Clemson launched the program last season with a 19-8 record overall that included a 4-1 win over No. 14 Georgia and a 5-1 mark in the ACC before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the successful campaign to a screeching halt.
Head coach John Rittman touched on his appreciation for all of the people that made the 2021 season possible in Clemson’s softball media availability on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be a lot of very appreciative feelings toward our medical staff and everybody that has helped us work through the guidelines and new protocols to deal with this pandemic and COVID-19,” Rittman said. “We are very thankful for all of those people that made this moment possible.”
The Tigers start their 50-game season this weekend with games against Illinois State, Jacksonville and North Florida.
Rittman also credited his team and coaching staff for remaining positive despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the pandemic.
“A lot of the credit goes to our players and their ability to handle the adversity of playing softball in this so-called new normal,” Rittman said. “And our coaches and staff for the job they have done to make this possible for us to continue living our dream and doing what we do in playing fast-pitch softball.”
Rittman touted his team leaders for their ability to keep spirits high this fall despite the lack of traditional team building activities because of virus protocols. He specifically mentioned redshirt-junior Cammy Pereira as an older player who has stepped up as a vocal leader in year two.
Pereira started all 27 games as the lead-off hitter and second baseman for the Tigers last season. The Furman transfer hit .298 with 21 runs and 10 RBIs and was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2020.
Pereira also expressed her excitement to face a team with different colors after a long offseason and countless team scrimmages.
“I think we are kind of tired of it now. We joke every day that we are so tired of playing the same color and are ready to see another color,” Pereira said. “Appreciation is a word that we are going to feel, and excitement for sure. We are so ready to get out there. Our freshmen and all of us that did so well last year are so ready to get back to what we started last year.”