Clemson gives closure to a great first full season

Clemson gives closure to a great first full season

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Clemson gives closure to a great first full season

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The Clemson softball team accomplished a lot this season in its first full year on the diamond.

The Tigers’ spectacular season came to a close on Sunday in the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) Regional when they fell 5-0 to No. 3 overall seed Alabama in the regional championship series.

Clemson head coach John Rittman could not have been happier in his postgame press conference, despite the tough loss because of everything his team accomplished throughout the year.

“This has been an outstanding year for our program and I’m just so happy for our players to experience the success that we’ve had in such a short amount of time,” Rittman said.

“To win 44 games in your second year as a program is pretty remarkable and you don’t do that without a lot of great people and a lot of great players,” he continued. “I’m just so grateful and humble to be in this situation.”

The Tigers finished the season 44-8 overall and 29-5 in the ACC. They also nabbed the program’s first ACC Regular Season Championship, were runner-ups in the ACC Softball Championship Game and a bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they finished as the runner-up to the Crimson Tide.

Not to mention a Clemson women’s athletic record tying 17-game win streak and record breaking 19-game win streak in the same year. The win total included four wins over top-20 teams and a win over South Carolina in the first rivalry matchup in softball between the two in-state schools.

Rittman could not talk about the team’s success without crediting its two seniors Ansley Gilstrap and Casey Bigham, who transferred to Clemson from productive roles at USC Upstate and Furman respectively to build a winner from its inception.

“Our two seniors Ansley Gilstrap and Casey Bigham took a chance on a startup program and had no idea we were going to accomplish some of the things that we did,” Rittman said. “So, a huge shoutout to them for providing the leadership they did for our team.”

The season was not easy after having the schedule altered significantly by the ACC before the season started to add four-game series instead of the traditional three-game stints.

Then a conference series with Notre Dame was cancelled in the middle of the season because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Irish clubhouse.

“Certainly, this year has been a long year and we have really fought and played hard, came back from some adversity and battled through some injuries,” Rittman said. “For a young team to do all of those things and still have the success we’ve had is remarkable.”

Now Rittman hopes to give his second Tigers team some closure over the next week before Clemson closes this chapter and looks ahead to 2022.

But he is already excited to return the bulk of his roster and entire pitching rotation next season.

“Certainly, we have learned a lot form this year and gained some valuable experience to help us build for next year,” Rittman said. “We are going to take some time to reflect and enjoy the players and season we have had and put some closure on it next week.”

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