With a new season on deck, Clemson softball looks to capitalize off last year’s shortened season. The Tigers ended their inaugural season in 2020 with a 19-8 record, including a 5-1 mark in ACC play, to go along with many exciting firsts.
The Tigers open up the 2021 season at the River City Leadoff Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday. Clemson takes on Illinois State in the first game of two, with first pitch scheduled for noon.
“It was definitely disappointing, especially when we were just starting to get on a roll with that team and getting all the pieces put together,” said preseason All-American Valerie Cagle. “We have a really great team this year, so just being able to build those memories and doing the same thing with these new people is going to be just as special as last year.”
Cagle, who was the Tigers’ pitching ace through most of last year, played in all 27 games with 13 of those starts coming in the circle. With her first season under her belt, she knows she and the Tigers no longer have the surprise factor of being a newcomer.
“I think that’s something definitely very challenging that you can kind of psych yourself out if you overthink it too much, but what I did last year is who I am,” Cagle said. “You just have to focus on what you did before and just keep the same mindset and keep doing the same thing.”
Fellow teammate and outfielder Marissa Guimbarda shares the same level of excitement and approach for her second season at Clemson. The redshirt junior, who received preseason All-ACC honors alongside Cagle, is ready to pick back up where they left off last season.
“I think it all just comes down to mindset,” she said. “My Dad always told me the biggest battle you have is six inches between your ears and I think that without playing games you can make all the excuses you want of like, ‘Oh we haven’t seen another pitcher other than our own’ or ‘It’s been difficult to play games’, but at the same time, like I said, the biggest battle you have is between your ears.
“I know how to hit the ball and I think everybody knows what their strengths are, so I go up to the plate with a mindset of, ‘I’m going to be the best I can at this at-bat and whatever happens, happens.’ I’m excited for the chance that all of our teammates are going to get to just shine on the field in their own special ways.”