The Clemson softball team bested North Carolina 4-1 at McWhorter Stadium on Thursday in Game 1 of a four game series behind another masterful game in the circle by Valerie Cagle.
The Tigers improved to 23-4 overall and 15-4 in ACC play with their third straight victory.
Cagle (14-3) earned the win and held the Tar Heels to one run on two hits while striking out 13 and allowing just one walk and a hit batter.
“She is just such a competitor and a terrific pitcher, hitter and a great athlete. She goes about her craft very professionally and just does her job,” Clemson head coach John Rittman said after the game. “She has matured so much she gave up the run there in the fourth and just shut them down the rest of the game.”
Eighteenth-ranked Clemson struck first in the bottom of the second when Ansley Gilstrap reached on a fielding error by the Carolina shortstop that scored Alia Logoleo to give it a 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels (10-9, 6-4 ACC) evened things up in the top of the fourth with a two out one-run single by Taylor Greene to right center field that scored Skyler Brooks to tie the game 1-1.
The Tigers answered in the next frame on an 11 pitch at bat by Mackenzie Clark to regain the lead.
Alia Logoleo led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Grace Mattimore. Clark delivered the go-ahead run on double off the wall in left field, with a full count and two outs, to give Clemson a 2-1 advantage after four innings.
In the bottom of the fifth Logoleo extended the Tigers’ lead with a two-run double to deep center field to score Jaden Cheek and Arielle Oda to extend the advantage to 4-1.
Logoleo led Clemson at the plate and finished the game 3-3 with a pair of doubles, two RBIs and a pair of runs.
Rittman has been impressed with Logoleo’s versatility in the field and at the plate so far this season and feels like she is in midseason form.
“Alia is a very gifted athlete very versatile she can be used in the infield and outfield. The main thing has been keeping her healthy, she dealt with some injuries last year,” Rittman said. “Now she’s getting back to where she was last year and she has been clutch and is a terrific outfielder and infielder.”
The Tigers return to action in a double-header with Carolina on Friday starting at 1 p.m. before concluding the series on Saturday at noon in Clemson.