CLEMSON, S.C. – The No. 16 seed Clemson Tigers needed two games on Sunday afternoon, but ultimately shut down the Auburn Tigers to advance to Super Regionals for the second-consecutive season. After dropping the first game on Sunday, 5-2, Clemson responded with a 5-1 victory in the Regional Championship finale, while improving to 49-10 overall.
GAME 2 – W, 5-1
The Clemson Tigers jumped on the advantage of being the home team in the second game of the day. After McKenzie Clark was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom half of the first, Valerie Cagle hit a single to the shortstop. Clark advanced to third on a throwing error to put runners on the corners with only one out. Caroline Jacobsen hit a chopper back to the shortstop and was able to reach as Clark was ruled out on the play at home. Cagle showed smart base running by taking third on the Clark play, and she scored on a wild pitch to put Clemson ahead, 1-0, after one.
Clemson kept momentum moving into the second inning after Aby Vieira drew a one-out walk. JoJo Hyatt advanced her to second, and Reedy Davenport brought her home with a single that dropped into shallow center. Clemson went on to load the bases as Clark was hit by another pitch, and Ally Miklesh used her speed to reach on a bunt while Davenport and Clark advanced. Cagle drew a walk to pick up the RBI as Davenport scored to make it 3-0 after two.
Auburn answered with one run in the top of the third after the leadoff batter hit a triple to right field and scored on a play at the plate. Clemson ended the inning before any additional damage could be done, turning a 6-4-3 double play.
Clemson added two additional runs in the fourth after Clark singled down the left field line, and Miklesh advanced her to second. The Myakka City, Florida native advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Cagle drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Jacobsen brought Clark home with a single down the third base line, and Maddie Moore provided the second RBI of the inning with a second single down the third base line that scored pinch runner Julia Bomhardt from second. After four, Clemson led 5-1. That score would hold for the final three innings to advance Clemson to Super Regionals.
Cagle tossed her 22nd complete game of 2023, throwing 7.0 innings with two strikeouts and only allowed four hits, while also reaching base in all four of her plate appearances. In two regional games against the Tigers in 2023, she pitched 14.0 innings, allowing just one run and five hits. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top Three Finalist improves to 25-6 in the circle.
GAME 1 – L, 5-2
As the designated home team, Auburn was able to strike in the bottom of the first inning to open the scoring. After the first two runners got on off a walk and a single, Auburn hit a three-run shot to center allowing AU to take a 3-0 lead.
Clemson responded in the top of the fourth with a solo home run from Alia Logoleo. The redshirt junior drove the eighth pitch of her at bat out of right field. Auburn and Clemson traded runs in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth. A double brought home the AU runner, and a bases loaded walk by Jacobsen plated Arielle Oda to make it 4-2 in Auburn’s favor through four and a half.
Auburn added one additional run in the bottom of the sixth to top Clemson, 5-2.
Cagle got the start in the circle for Clemson in game one as well. She threw three innings with three strikeouts. Junior Regan Spencer pitched one inning before Millie Thompson came in to pitch 1.1 innings. Brooke McCubbin relieved Thompson in the sixth to pick up the final two outs.
Clemson will now travel to Norman, Oklahoma to play No. 1 seed Oklahoma in Super Regional action. The Tigers will face the Sooners in a best-of-three series beginning on Friday, May 26. Game times and tv designations will come at a later date.