Photos by Patrick Boling, Clemson Athletics
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Propelled by three runs in the first inning, the No. 16 Clemson Softball Team (35-4, 22-4 ACC) shutout the University of South Carolina (23-16, 2-11 SEC), 6-0, Wednesday evening at Beckham Field. The victory extended the Tigers’ winning streak to 13 games as Clemson improved to 20-0 on the season when leading after the first. The Tigers also improved to 40-0 all-time and 23-0 this season when scoring five runs or more, and 26-0 on the year when homering at least once.
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In the circle, Clemson ace Valerie Cagle (21-3) recorded her ninth complete-game shutout after registering eight strikeouts and surrendering just three hits. South Carolina pitcher Cayla Drotar suffered the loss and fell to 3-6 on the season.
Clemson kicked off the scoring in the top of the first inning, which began with an RBI-double that was struck into right-center field by Blythewood, South Carolina native Ansley Gilstrap. Gilstrap’s 17th RBI of the season knocked home McKenzie Clark, the leadoff batter of the first-ever Palmetto series matchup, who reached first on a walk. Then, Cagle went first-pitch swinging and blasted her team-leading 10th home run on an opposite shot to left field, extending the Tigers’ lead to 3-0. Cagle’s homer also added to her current hitting streak of 13 games.
The Tigers tacked on three more runs in the top of the sixth as Clark ripped her sixth home run of the season over the right-field wall to score Cammy Pereira (2-for-4), who singled to start off the inning. Two walks and a single by Cagle loaded the bases for Kyah Keller (2-for-3), who recorded her second sacrifice fly of the season on a high fly ball to centerfield to give the Tigers a 6-0 cushion heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Cagle and the Tigers’ defense slammed the door on any possible scoring opportunity when Pereira made a nice back-handed play towards the middle of the infield to save a hit. The game ended on a hard-hit ball to first base, which Keller collected with ease for the unassisted putout.
Up next, Clemson returns to McWhorter Stadium to host NC State (24-13, 14-11 ACC) in the Tigers’ home series finale, which begins Friday at 5 p.m. All four games this weekend are slated to stream on ACCNX.
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