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Feb 14, 2024

Tigers Open Puerto Vallarta College Challenge with Pair of Wins

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mex. – The No. 8/7 Clemson Tigers picked up two victories on Wednesday afternoon to open the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. The Tigers kicked off the tournament with a 7-0 victory against Wichita State, before capping the doubleheader with a 6-4 win against UC San Diego.

Clemson finished the day with 16 hits between the two games and 13 RBIs. Junior Alex Brown led the charge with four hits, two in each game, while freshman Julia Knowler clocked five RBIs. Knowler, Valerie Cagle, McKenzie Clark and Kylee Johnson all had home runs on the day.

Game 1 – Wichita State (W, 7-0)

Cagle opened the scoring in the top of the first with a solo home run, her first homer of the season and 60th of her career, to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. She then shut things down in the circle after Wichita State put two runners in scoring position by striking out three-consecutive batters to keep the advantage in Clemson’s favor.

The Tigers added two additional runs in the third that were spurred after Abi Stuart, who had Arielle Oda pinch running for her, knocked a double into right field. Brown joined Oda on the bases with a single, and Cagle drew a walk to load the bases and bring Knowler up. The freshman drove the first pitch of her at bat into center field for a double that plated Oda and Brown to make it 3-0 in the Tigers favor.

Continuing action into the fifth inning, Knowler added her third home run and 11th RBI of the season with a two-run shot out of center to score Brown who had reached on a single of her own. Clark joined the home run party in the top of the sixth with a two-run shot out of right field. The senior sent the second pitch of her at bat out of the park to score Julia Bomhardt, who was running for Aby Vieira, after Vieira had singled to open the inning. Through six innings, it was 7-0 in Clemson’s favor that would hold for the remainder of the game.

Cagle tossed her first complete game of the season, 73rd of her career, to improve to 2-0 in the circle. She faced 29 batters and struck out five for the win.

Game 2 – UC San Diego (W, 6-4)

In the second game of the day, the Tritons plated a run in the opening frame off a throwing error by the Tigers. Clemson responded in the bottom of the second after loading the bases. Clark hit a deep sac fly into right field that allowed Johnson to score from third and advanced JoJo Hyatt and Arielle Oda both into scoring position. Brown dropped a shallow hit into center to plate both Hyatt and Oda to make it 3-1, and Cagle added one additional run by plating Brown from first off a double off the left field fence to make it 4-1 after two.

In the third inning, Johnson added another run for the Tigers by hitting her first collegiate home run with a shot out of right field. UC San Diego responded with one run in the top of the fourth to make it 5-2.

Clemson scored again in the fifth inning after Cagle led off with a triple into left field. She was brought home with an RBI from Knowler, her fifth of the day. The Tritons plated two additional runs in the top of the seventh inning, but Clemson was able to shut things down defensively to earn the 6-4 win.

Senior Regan Spencer started in the circle in game two and pitched two innings facing nine batters, striking out one. She was replaced by Brooke McCubbin in the top of the third inning. McCubbin pitched two innings with three strikeouts to earn her third victory of the season. Thompson pitched two innings with one strikeout before being replaced by Cagle. Cagle entered with two runners on in the seventh and forced three ground outs to earn her second save of the season.

Up Next

Clemson returns to the field on Friday evening at 9:30 p.m. ET against Utah. Fans can watch every game this week on FloSoftball. Links to all the action can be found on the Clemson Softball schedule page.