Clemson softball continued its historic run with another first in its 8-0 win over Troy in its first ever NCAA Tournament game on Friday.
The Tigers dominated Troy from the outset and blasted four long balls in the game including two by Valerie Cagle. The ACC Player of the Year also put together another masterful performance in the circle with four scoreless innings with one hit, as she struck out 10.
The win on Saturday adds on to the long list of firsts that the Tigers have already accomplished in their first full season.
Head coach John Rittman is very familiar with postseason softball and was proud of the way his team controlled their emotions in the Tigers’ first taste of the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really proud of the way we have handled our emotions all year long. You never know how your team is going to perform in a situation like this because we’ve never been here before,” Rittman said. “I’m very proud of our effort today and the way we handled ourselves.”
Clemson improved to 43-6 on the season and has already notched an ACC Regular Season Championship, ACC Championship game appearance, an NCAA Tournament appearance and now a win in their first try in the postseason.
Alia Logoleo got things started for the Tigers with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to give Clemson a 3-0 lead it would not relinquish.
She described this season, and especially the last week-plus, as a roller coaster of emotions.
“Emotions are definitely a roller coaster from the selection show to now. This game really got all of our emotions settled,” Logoleo said.
“This was our first postseason game and our first NCAA Tournament game,” she continued. “We have a lot of firsts this year and for us to come out on fire like we did was amazing and really indescribable.”
Rittman moved into coveted territory among Clemson coaches with the win. In his first 76 games as the head coach of the Tigers, Rittman is 62-14 with a better record than Jack Leggett, Danny Ford, Bill Wilhelm and Dabo Swinney in their first 76 per Tim Bourret.
Clemson head coaching records through 76 games. John Rittman 62-14, Jack Leggett 57-19, Danny Ford 56-18-2, Bill Wilhelm 55-20-1, Dabo Swinney 52-24, Bill Foster 51-25.
— Tim Bourret (@TimBourret) May 21, 2021
But Rittman is just happy to be in the winner’s bracket and in good position to compete for a regional championship.
“Any time you advance in the postseason is special. This is the time of the year where every win is a big win,” he said. “To get this first one under our belt is huge is puts us in a position tomorrow to hopefully get one step closer to a regional championship.”
Clemson returns to action at noon on Saturday against the winner of Alabama and Alabama State at Rhoads Softball Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
—Photo Courtesy of Clemson. Athletic Communications
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