CLEMSON, S.C. – No one can say that the first two seasons of the Clemson softball program have been boring. After having the inaugural season cut short in 2020 by the NCAA due to COVID-19, the Tigers came back in 2021 ready to show the softball world that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Head coach John Rittman, who was named ACC Coach of the Year last season, returns eight starting position players from the 2021 roster, including five players that accounted for eight of Clemson’s All-ACC selections as well as the ACC Player and Freshman of the Year, Valerie Cagle.
The staff and athletes have high hopes for the third year of the program after capturing the ACC Regular Season Championship, finishing second in the ACC Tournament Championship and making an NCAA Regional. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 44-8 (29-5 ACC) and won seven ACC series, sweeping six. At the conclusion of last season, the Tigers finished ranked No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll and at No. 18 in the NFCA poll.
Entering the 2022 season, the Tigers must replace the left side of the infield after losing Ansley Gilstrap (shortstop) and Casey Bigham (third base) following their graduation last May. Luckily, 21 letter winners return from the 2021 roster, so Clemson returns a plethora of experience at the plate and in the circle. Along with those returning, Coach Rittman added eight newcomers, including graduate transfer Sam Russ from NC State.
Fans have the opportunity to be introduced to the 2022 roster and watch the team play a seven-inning intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, Feb. 5 at noon. Admission to the open scrimmage is free, and gates open to the public at 11:15 a.m.
The complete 2022 schedule features 53 regular-season games, 28 home games at McWhorter Stadium and eight ACC series. The Tigers play a home-and-home series with South Carolina and face Georgia in Athens, Ga., as well. The season begins with back-to-back weekends in Florida starting on Feb. 10 at the FGCU Kickoff Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. and continuing Feb. 17 at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in Clearwater, Fla.
The 2022 roster doesn’t look like a traditional roster when it comes to each athlete’s year of eligibility. With the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee voting to grant all 2020 spring student-athletes an extra year of eligibility after COVID-19 forced the cancelation of spring sports in the Tigers’ first season, each returner from the 2020 season maintained the same eligibility status in the 2021 year. The 2022 roster is seeing the continued effects of these decisions.
The Tigers’ senior class contains five student-athletes that have already completed their undergraduate degree and are now working towards either a master’s or a post-baccalaureate. Leading the charge for their final year of eligibility are Marissa Guimbarda and Cammy Pereira. Guimbarda returns for her final year after batting .309 and posting a .669 slugging percentage in 2021 through 48 games. She was an All-ACC First Team selection in 2021 after recording 13 home runs and bringing in 42 runners. Coming into the 2022 season, Guimbarda has been ranked a top-100 player by both Extra Innings Softball and Softball America. Pereira returns for her final season after being selected to the ACC All-Tournament Team in 2021 after hitting two homers against Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship. She finished the season with a .295 average and .324 on-base percentage.
Joining Guimbarda and Pereira are Grace Mattimore, Bailey Taylor and Sam Russ. Mattimore appeared in 40 games and posted a .253 average with 23 hits and 11 RBI. Taylor missed last season due to injury but led the Tigers in 2020 with 41 assists. Russ was an addition to the Tiger roster in July after graduating from North Carolina State. While with the Wolfpack, Russ was a two-time All-ACC selection and owns NC State’s all-time stolen base record for career (103) and single season (32).
Since the 2020 freshman class received another year of eligibility, they are listed as redshirt sophomores on the 2022 roster. Beginning her third year with the team is Valerie Cagle. She has helped put Clemson softball on the map, being named the 2021 ACC Softball Player and Freshman of the Year – the first player in league history to do so in softball. She also is the lone All-American returning to the roster after being named a NFCA Second Team selection and JWOS First Team honoree. The Yorktown, Va. native was a force at the plate and in the circle for the Tigers batting a team-high .404 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI. In the circle, she posted a 1.16 ERA and posted 11 shutouts with 267 strikeouts on the year while limiting opponents to a .184 average. Heading into the 2022 season, Cagle has been named a Preseason All-ACC selection, the Preseason D1Softball.com ACC Player of the Year and Preseason D1Softball.com First Team All-American.
Alongside Cagle are Alia Logoleo, JoJo Hyatt, Kyah Keller, Abi Stuart, Carlee Shannon, Arielle Oda, Madison May, Emma Whitfield and Morgan Johnson. Logoleo was a Second Team All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman Team selection after appearing in 45 games with a .265 average and 27 RBI against ACC opponents. Hyatt was the starting catcher during the 2021 season appearing in 51 games, making 50 starts. She carried a .223 batting average, a .266 slugging percentage and a .291 on-base percentage while leading the team with 365 putouts. Keller and Stuart also saw significant time last season appearing in 38 and 36 games, respectively. Keller finished with a .256 average with 17 RBI, while Stuart averaged .259 17 RBI and 10 runs scored.
Shannon appeared in 36 games as a pinch runner for the Tigers and scored 14 runs and stole 18 bases. Oda saw action in 46 games and scored 10 runs with four stolen bases. May and Whitfield appeared in a combined five games with May drawing a single walk in her plate appearance. Whitfield pitched 5.1 innings with eight strikeouts. Johnson rounds out the redshirt sophomores and maintained a .350 average with 16 RBI in 40 at-bats. Johnson will miss the 2022 season due to injury.
The true freshmen during the 2021 season were crucial to Clemson’s success last season and will play an equal part in 2022 as sophomores. McKenzie Clark headlines the group after earning NFCA All-Region honors, being a First Team All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman Team selections and being only the second player on the roster besides Cagle to see time in all 52 games. Clark averaged .355 with 47 runs scored, 29 RBI and a team-high 23 stolen bases. Heading into the 2022 season, Clark has been named a Preseason All-ACC selection. Joining Clark on the ACC All-Freshman Team last year was left-handed pitcher Millie Thompson. Thompson pitched 78.2 innings with a 2.05 ERA and 70 strikeouts.
Regan Spencer also appeared in the circle for the Tigers and posted a 1.48 ERA and one solo shutout with 20 strikeouts through 42.2 innings pitched. Jaden Cheek, Sarah Howell and Ansley Houston are the last three true sophomores on the roster for the 2022 season. They appeared in a combined 64 games and scored 16 runs.
Rounding out the 2022 roster are the freshman and redshirt freshman. Hannah Goodwin returns to the roster for her third season after getting the COVID-19 year back and missing last season due to injury. Going into 2021, she was a preseason All-ACC selection after leading the team in 2020 with a .385 average.
Alongside Goodwin is true freshman Brooke McCubbin (P/INF) who was the 2020 Georgia Gatorade Softball Player of the Year, 2019 GACA State Pitcher of the Year and 2019 GADC State 5A Player of the Year. Rachel Gibson (RHP), Aby Vieira (C/UTL), Grace Hiller (INF/OF), Haley Whitesides (RHP/INF), Jadeyn Ruszkowski (INF) and Maddie Moore (INF) conclude the roster.
For all the most up-to-date information regarding Clemsonsoftball, follow @ClemsonSoftball on Twitter and Instagram. In addition, on Feb. 15 Clemson and IPTAY will launch Clemson+, a streaming service dedicated to showing what it’s like to be a Tiger. Information on how to become an IPTAY member and gain access to the subscription is available here.