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Clearwater, Fla. – The No. 15/12 Clemson Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to seal the walk-off victory over the No. 18/15 Tennessee Lady Vols in the Tiger’s second game of the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational. With the 4-3 win, Clemson improves to 5-1 on the season.
“Any way you can win a close game like that, you take it,” said head coach John Rittman. “There were a lot of players leaving their heart out on the field tonight. It’s early in the season so it wasn’t a perfect game, but we found a way to win a close game. Sometimes you need a little luck, and we certainly took advantage of their mistakes late in that game.
Valerie (Cagle) tested her endurance and was able to fight through some adversity to showcase how tremendous she is for us in the circle. JoJo (Hyatt) and Marissa (Guimbarda) came up with big hits for us when we needed them, and then you get in the tiebreaker where anything can happen. Our team did a good job defensively in the extra innings to not allow Tennessee to get a runner to third. We were able to take that into the bottom of the ninth in the crazy play that ended it as Maddie (Moore) had a great heads up play with solid base running and reading the ball.”
The Lady Vols got on the board first in the top of the first inning with a solo home run by Kiki Milloy to give Tennessee the early 1-0 lead.
Redshirt sophomore JoJo Hyatt came up with her second clutch performance of the weekend when she drove in two runs in the bottom half of the second inning on a single through the right side that scored Cammy Pereira and Alia Logoleo to give the Tigers the 2-1 lead.
Tennessee would add a run in the top half of the third inning to tie the game at 2-2 when a triple by McKenna Gibson scored Ivy Davis. Clemson reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a solo blast from Marissa Guimbarda over the left-field wall.
The Lady Vols tied the game at 3-3 following another solo home run from Milloy in the top half of the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings.
The Tigers went on to close things out in the ninth inning as sophomore McKenzie Clark stepped to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Clark would reach on a fielder’s choice as Tennessee looked to turn second. Due to a fielding error, Clemson was ruled safe at second, and Maddie Moore rounded third and headed home to score the game-winning run following an additional throwing error by UT’s pitcher to give the Tigers the 4-3 win.
Valerie Cagle pitched the full nine innings clocking 143 pitches en route to earning her third win of the season. She struck out a season-high 13 batters, one shy of her career-best 14.
The Tigers are back in action tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. against No. RV/23 Northwestern and then Clemson will play an afternoon game at 5:30 p.m. against Wisconsin as play continues at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in Clearwater, Fla.