Clemson knows the recipe for success against Alabama. Now it needs to execute it, and it has to do it twice on Sunday.
The Tigers started the day Saturday with a 6-0 loss to the Crimson Tide, but bounced back with a 4-2 win over Troy to avoid elimination from the NCAA Softball Tournament.
Now, Clemson is set to face Alabama again in the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) Regional championship round. The Tigers need to win twice to advance to an NCAA Super regional next weekend.
Head coach John Rittman felt his team used up a lot of mental and physical energy in the loss to one of the best pitchers in the country in Montana Fonts in the loss to the Tide.
But he knows the Tigers are capable of playing better in the championship game on Sunday if they can make adjustment particularly at the plate.
“The first thing is we have to do a better job offensively. We had four hits, three or four opportunities to score runs, we had a couple of stolen bases and it’s about getting timely hits,” Rittman said. “We need to shorten up, get the barrel to the ball in those situations and come up with some hits.”
Valerie Cagle held the Crimson Tide at bay until the bottom of the third when they loaded the bases with no outs on a couple of bunts and an infield-single. Then Bailey Hemphill hit a two-run single on a shallow pop-up to right field to give them a 2-0 lead.
Late in the game, Clemson struggled to finish innings and gave up a four spot in the sixth to drop the game 6-0 and make its road to a super regional a tough one.
“On defense we have to keep their speed off the base paths,” Rittman said. “We have to make the slappers hit the ball by us and we cannot let them beat us in front.”
Montana Fonts was outstanding for Alabama in the game with a complete game shutout allowing four hits and striking out 16. But Fonts isn’t the only pitcher Clemson has to worry about.
“They have two pitchers, they have another drop ball kid that shows about 67-69 MPH, Lexi Kilfoyl,” Rittman said. “We have to be prepared for Fonts or Kilfoyl tomorrow and we have to get the timely hits.”
The Tigers will likely throw Cagle in the circle after Millie Thompson and Reagan Spencer pitched the bulk of the elimination game against Troy.
Clemson hopes to put some pressure on Bama and avoid elimination at 2 p.m. at Rhoads Softball Stadium and force a winner-takes-all title game at 4:30 p.m.
WCCP 105.5 F.M. will carry the game on radio in the upstate with The Clemson Insider alum William Qualkinbush on the call.
Clemson Variety & Frame is doing their part to help bring you some classic new barware and help one of the local businesses that helps make Clemson special.
Order your Nick’s barware and do your part to help. #SaveNicks