The 2024 softball season preview was featured in an earlier issue of IPTAY’s Orange: The Experience magazine.
The 2024 spring semester is sure to be a good one as the Clemson Softball program prepares for its fifth season of action. After ending the 2023 season with 49 wins and its second-consecutive Super Regional appearance, the Tigers return a strong lineup in the new year that is ready to ‘Knock Down the Door’ in 2024.
The Tigers are coming off a dynamic fourth season in 2023 that led to multiple program and individual accomplishments. Offensively as a team, Clemson put up 13 team-highs including 488 hits and scoring 371 runs with 350 RBIs. Defensively, Clemson maintained a .980 fielding percentage and turned 31 double plays with a 1.59 combined ERA to keep opponents off balance and will look to carry this momentum into 2024 by returning pitchers Valerie Cagle, Millie Thompson, Brooke McCubbin and Regan Spencer who combined for 392 innings pitched, 318 strikeouts and 19 solo shutouts. Additional key returners include middle infielders Alia Logoleo and Maddie Moore, as well as centerfielder McKenzie Clark and catchers JoJo Hyatt and Aby Vieira.
On the cusp of playing the 200th game in program history – occurring on the season opener on Feb. 8 – the Tigers are ready for the best year yet under the leadership of Coach Rittman, Associate Head Coach Kyle Jamieson and Assistant Coaches Courtney Breault and Jessie Harper. In 2024, Clemson is set to play 52 regular-season games, 27 of which will be played in McWhorter Stadium. With a stacked schedule that includes facing 13 teams that finished at a Regional, three that made a Super Regional and two that concluded their seasons at the Women’s College World Series, Clemson has positioned itself for another competitive season on the diamond. The season opens on Feb. 8 in Clearwater, Fla., at the NFCA Leadoff Classic before continuing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Feb. 14 at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
Cagle, the reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and two-time ACC Player of the Year, returns for her final season in the Orange and Regalia to lead the program. After capturing nearly every top award a collegiate softball player can earn in 2023, including being the Rawlings Gold Glove pitcher and a unanimous First Team All-American, she is poised to continue her dominant .469 average at the plate and 1.56 ERA in the circle. Cagle finished her junior campaign in the top 25 of 11 different NCAA Categories and led the ACC in seven. The Yorktown, Va., native threw Clemson’s first perfect game last season against Mercer and followed it with an immaculate inning against Georgia Tech meaning she only needed nine pitches to strike out three batters in a single half inning. At the plate, Cagle set a program record with 83 hits, including 19 home runs and 15 doubles, to make for the perfect dual threat.
Joining Cagle in the circle are seniors Thompson and Spencer, as well as junior McCubbin. Thompson completes Clemson’s ‘1-2 punch’ in the circle as a dominant lefty. She finished with a 1.82 ERA and 14 wins through 92.1 innings of work and racked up 72 strikeouts last season. Spencer, a dynamic relief pitcher for the Tigers, made 18 appearances in 2023 and maintained a 5-0 record with a 1.73 ERA in 32.1 innings of work. McCubbin rounds out the returners with the lowest ERA (1.34) through 73.1 innings and finished with a 5-1 record while limiting opponents to a .162 average at the plate.
Poised and ready for their senior campaigns are Logoleo and Clark. Looking to prove how dynamic the two are both at the plate and in the field, they return to the lineup carrying a .296 and .335 average respectively. Logoleo, an infielder, finished with 51 RBIs, the second-most on the roster last season, with 50 hits. Clark, the starting centerfielder for the past three seasons, tallied 60 hits, including 13 home runs, and scored a team-high 56 runs.
Catcher Hyatt and outfielder Arielle Oda return for their sixth and final seasons after being the only two players that were members of Team 0 – the team that practiced before the inaugural season in 2020. Hyatt returns after a career-best season last year where she put up a .330 average with 29 hits and 17 RBIs. Oda returns as the only player who has made two SportsCenter Top 10 Plays during her Tiger career for her efforts in the outfield.
Vieira joins Hyatt behind the plate, and Moore joins Logoleo in the middle infield for their junior seasons. Vieira finished with a .314 average with 33 hits and 19 RBIs, while Moore posted a .264 average off 46 hits, including 11 home runs, and scored 47 runs while plating 40 RBIs and stealing 15 bases, the second-most on the squad.
Additional returners include sophomore Marena Knowles, who tallied a .269 average in her first season with the Tigers. Abi Stuart, Jadeyn Ruszkowski, Grace Hiller and Julia Bomhardt add additional returning depth to the lineup.
During the offseason, the softball staff added experience with transfers Alex Brown (UNC) and Lindsey Garcia (Auburn). Brown led the Tar Heels the past two seasons at the plate, and Garcia left Auburn sitting fifth all-time in sacrifice flies and seventh in triples.
Additional newcomers to the 2024 squad that will look to help Clemson include freshmen Kennedy Ariail, Rylee Burton, Olivia Duncan, Kylee Johnson and Julia Knowler.