LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Clemson will continue its run in the ACC Softball Tournament today when it faces the only team that beat them in a weekend series this season.
The top-seeded Tigers knocked off No. 9 Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals on Thursday, 2-0, behind an outstanding performance by Valerie Cagle in the circle and two solo home runs by Cammy Pereira.
Clemson now plays No. 4 Virginia Tech in the semifinals at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville. It faced the Hokies in a three-game series in the first weekend of ACC play this past February. And though the Tigers took the first game, they fell in the final two games to drop its only series all year.
Head coach John Rittman attributed the Hokies’ success to ACC Pitcher of the Year Keely Rochard.
“Keely Rochard is one of the best pitchers in the country and we were very fortunate to see her early in the year,” Rittman said. “We jumped on her early in the first game that series and the next day she came out and really pitched a terrific game against us.”
In Game 1 of that series Clemson strung together hits early and put up a five-run third inning. Rochard left the game after the fourth inning and the Tigers won, 8-1.
In the third game of the series Rochard got the best of Clemson and completely shut it down at the plate. She pitched a complete-game and allowed one run on three hits and struck out four Tigers in a 4-1 victory.
Rochard pitched another gem on Thursday as Virginia Tech bested Notre Dame, 4-1, in the quarterfinals. The Hokie pitcher went the distance and allowed one run on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Rittman and the Tigers (41-5) know what they have to do in order to advance to Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.
“We know we will see an outstanding pitcher and outstanding team,” he said. “We just have to go out and play softball properly and try to execute against a really good pitcher.”
Clemson faces the Hokies at 1 p.m., and one team will advance to the championship game to play the winner of the Duke-Florida State semifinal game on Saturday.
Both semifinal games today will be televised on the ACC Network.
—Photo courtesy of ACC Communications