Ahead of the 2023 season, Clemson head coach John Rittman spoke with D1Softball regarding the immense support from the Tigers’ fan base spanning from the program’s inception just five years ago to now.
When discussing the incredible support Clemson softball has seen from the community, Rittman explained that while many people tried to convince him how amazing the Tigers’ fan base is, nothing could have prepared him for the warm welcome that his program would receive.
“When I first got hired at Clemson, everybody was selling me on what a fanatic base that Clemson has,” Rittman said. “The fans, whether it’s football, soccer, baseball, basketball, fans love Clemson, and I got a sense of that on my interview and then during my first year here.”
And it didn’t take long for Rittman to see that Clemson fandom firsthand. The fourth-year head coach recounted a preseason fan day that the Tigers held back in January of 2020 that made him realize just how much fan support the then-first-year program had.
“I can remember January of our inaugural season, we decided to have a fan day,” the head coach said. “We had already sold out the season tickets, so I knew it was going to be awesome, but we had a practice before a little home run derby and autograph session for the fans about two weeks before we opened the inaugural season.
“Towards the end of practice, one of our student managers came up and said, ‘Coach, there’s a line outside of our stadium,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, you mean for fan day?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah,’ and I was like, ‘How many?’ and he said, ‘Oh, it’s a long line, at least a quarter mile long.’ So, we took a little break, and I went up and sure enough I couldn’t believe it. That just shows the support that we have here and certainly like you mentioned, there’s nothing like playing in front of a full house and that’s what we get to do here. We’re very blessed to have the fan base that we have.”
Now four years and four sold-out seasons later, Clemson enters 2023 with its sights set on the program’s first NCAA Women’s College World Series berth after recording two NCAA Regional appearances over the past two seasons (2021, 2022) and the Tigers’ first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance last spring.
Rittman and the Tigers open up the 2023 season with a five-game, four-day road series in Miami, Fla. at the FIU Tournament on Feb. 9-12. Game one against FIU is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9.
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