LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Clemson softball team starts a new chapter of its historic first full season on Thursday as it takes the field in the ACC Softball Tournament today against Georgia Tech at 11 a.m.
The 11th-ranked Tigers enter the tournament as the top seed and ACC Regular Season Champion in search of another honor to add to an already stellar season.
Often times postseason play adds an extra layer of pressure, especially to a budding program, but Clemson players and head coach John Rittman have made it clear that they are playing with house money.
ACC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year Valerie Cagle doesn’t feel any added pressure and wants to enjoy every moment of her first taste of postseason softball.
“One of our coaches put it best this week that we aren’t supposed to be here,” Cagle said on Tuesday. “It gives us the opportunity to enjoy it because we aren’t expected to do any of this, so there is that much less pressure on us we can just enjoy everything as it comes.”
Postseason play is a new experience for Clemson’s young roster and the team is eager to take the field this morning.
The tournament features a single-elimination format and concludes with the conference championship game Saturday at noon on ESPN.
Rittman feels the format fits after a grueling regular season and is excited to experience his first conference tournament because the Pac-12 didn’t have a postseason tournament when he was at Stanford.
“This time of the year we have had such a grind with the four-game series format in the ACC,” he said. “This is appropriate in this year because we don’t want to tire ourselves out before the NCAA Tournament, but you still want to crown a conference champion, so this works out well for everyone.”
The No. 8 seeded Yellow Jackets blanked No. 9 seed Syracuse 6-0 on Wednesday to earn a shot at the Tigers with a no-hitter in the opening game of the tournament.
Clemson (40-5, 29-5 ACC) swept the Yellow Jackets in a three-game series in Atlanta in February and hopes to continue the trend in Louisville.
First pitch is set for 11 a.m. on Thursday at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky. and the game will be televised on the ACC Network.
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