LOUSIVILLE, Ky. – Clemson still has a lot left to play for in the postseason after an emotional 1-0 loss to Duke in the ACC Softball Championship Game on Saturday.
The Tigers aim to host an NCAA Regional at McWhorter Stadium next weekend as the ACC Regular Season Champion and after a solid showing in their first conference tournament this week.
Clemson (42-6) will learn its postseason fate on Sunday at 9 p.m. during the NCAA Softball Tournament selection show. The Tigers are aiming to turn a difficult loss into motivation moving forward in the postseason.
Senior Casey Bigham feels like her team will be fueled by the loss to practice hard this week and play well in the upcoming NCAA Regional.
“I think it’s great motivation and this loss today gets us even more motivation for regionals,” Bigham said. “This loss stung a bit so if we can use that for fuel for this coming weekend I think that will be a good thing.”
Clemson looked impressive in the tournament, especially on defense, as it allowed just the one run on Saturday in three games.
Head coach John Rittman thinks his team is deserving of a top eight national seed in the tournament, but knows the committee’s decision is out of his hands.
“We did everything in our power and under our control to take care of business on the field,” Rittman said after the game. “We are 42-6 and at the end of the day we can look in the mirror and say we did everything we could and now it’s up to the committee and they’ll do a great job.”
The Tigers are excited to play and likely host their first NCAA Regional at McWhorter Stadium in Clemson after an impressive first full season.
But now Clemson will have to prepare for a new slate of out of conference opponents instead of the familiar foes in the ACC.
“Certainly, playing teams like Duke, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech is one thing because we know each other,” Rittman said. “Now we will be playing some opponents we don’t know too much about and will have some homework to do before regionals.”
Most of Clemson’s young team has not experienced an NCAA Regional before.
The only Tiger to participate in the tournament is Ansley Gilstrap who played in a regional before her time in Clemson at USC Upstate when the Spartans traveled to Auburn, Ala. for a regional.
Rittman is still pinching himself after everything the Tigers have done this season and is glad there is still plenty to play for in the upcoming tournament.
“I am just so proud of everybody in our program to be in the position we are in just in year two is unheard of,” he said. “To even be talking about championships at this point is just crazy. I know we are going to bounce back and learn from this experience and be better for it.”
The NCAA Softball Tournament Selection Show will be televised on Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
—Photo courtesy of ACC Communications
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