Clemson softball head coach John Rittman pinched himself on Sunday to make sure he was not in a dream.
The Tigers made history on Sunday afternoon with a 19-2 win over Syracuse to claim the programs first ACC regular season title in their first full season of competition.
Eleventh-ranked Clemson finished the regular season 40-5 overall and 29-5 in the ACC to secure its top bid to the ACC Softball Tournament in Louisville, Ky., as the No. 1 seed. Rittman felt like he was living out a dream following the monumental win.
“This is such a remarkable feeling and words can’t describe it and like I said in a couple of interviews this year I just have to pinch myself to make sure this is real because of the success we have had,” Rittman said. “That comes from the people you surround yourself with and I’m very thankful.”
Clemson exploded on Sunday after a 7-6 loss on Saturday to the Orange that pushed the celebration back a day.
Rittman touted the resilience of his team to respond to adversity and do the unthinkable when nobody expected the Tigers to make this big of a splash in their first full season.
“We told them all along we were playing with house money and nobody expected us to be here,” Rittman said.
Early in the season the Tigers bested No. 14 Virginia Tech 8-1 at McWhorter Stadium in Clemson but lost both games of a double header to lose its only ACC series of the season. But the Tigers responded with a 17-game win streak.
Their next loss came in another double-header against Duke when it lost both games to the No. 11 Blue Devils on March 26. But the Tigers responded by winning the next two games to split the series and reeled off the 19-game win streak that ended on Saturday.
After the Duke series, Rittman knew his team had the opportunity to have a special season.
“Our team bounced back, and we won the last two games of that series,” Rittman said. “Then you think we can compete against any team in the country and now it’s a matter of continuing to grow as a team and staying humble to make sure the noise surrounding their success doesn’t get to them.”
Clemson travels to Louisville for the ACC Softball Tournament. The Tigers will take on the winner of ninth-seeded Georgia Tech and eighth-seeded Syracuse Thursday at 11 a.m. The Yellow Jackets and Orange are set to compete on Wednesday at 1 p.m.
All 2021 ACC Softball Championship games will broadcast on the ACC Network with the exception of Saturday’s title game, which will air on ESPN2 at noon.
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