Photos by Patrick Boling, Clemson Athletics
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In its first complete season, the Clemson Softball team (42-5, 29-5 ACC) is heading to the 2021 ACC Championship game. Tiger ace Valerie Cagle took over the game in her second consecutive shutout of the conference tournament, while also hitting the game’s only home run to lead her team to a 2-0 victory over No. 20 and fourth-seeded Virginia Tech (33-13, 24-12 ACC) Friday afternoon at Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium.
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In the circle, Cagle (26-4) went the distance for the 25th time of the season en route to posting her 11th shutout. The second-year freshman ace recorded seven strikeouts, while only allowing just three hits and two walks. Virginia Tech’s Keely Rochard (25-9), the 2021 ACC Pitcher of the Year, suffered the loss after tossing her 27th complete game of the season.
The Tigers scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the second after Grace Mattimore put down a successful squeeze bunt to give Alia Logoleo enough time to score from third. The RBI was Mattimore’s 11th of the season. Logoleo reached base on four straight balls before stealing second and was called safe. The Hokies’ coaching staff challenged the call, but it was upheld. Cammy Pereira’s ground ball hit to second advanced Logoleo to third with one out, bringing Mattimore up to the plate.
Cagle gave herself some breathing room in the following inning after hitting her 15th home run of the season on a high flyball that landed just past the Ulmer Stadium fence in right field. Cagle is now second in the conference in home runs on the season, while her 41st RBI of the season is tied for a team-best with teammate Marissa Guimbarda.
Cagle did not allow the ball to leave the infield until the top of the fifth on the Hokies’ then-second hit of the game. Despite a leadoff single up the middle to start the seventh, the Hokies’ comeback attempt fell shy thanks to a 6-4 double-play with no outs. Then, Pereira assisted on the final out, a ground out to second, which solidified the win and secured the Tigers’ ticket in Saturday’s title game.
Up next, the top-seeded Tigers take on the winner of second-seeded Florida State (39-9-1, 26-5-1 ACC) and third-seeded Duke (40-10, 26-10 ACC) at noon on Saturday. Saturday’s championship game will broadcast on ESPN. The Seminoles and Blue Devils are set to face off at 3:30 p.m. ET on ACC Network.
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Photos Courtesy of ACC