For the third game in a row, the Virginia softball team scored first against Clemson. For the third game in a row, Clemson finished with a flurry and beat the Cavaliers.
Clemson (12-2, 7-2 ACC) completed a four-game sweep of Virginia (6-9, 2-7 ACC) on Sunday, beating the Cavaliers, 8-1, at Palmer Park. Virginia led 1-0 after the first inning Sunday, but the Cavaliers faded.
“I’m proud of how our team competed and fought this weekend,” Virginia head coach Joanna Hardin said. “We are learning every game what it takes to be a championship team.”
Junior catcher Donna Friedman recorded an RBI groundout for UVa to push the team to a 1-0 lead after an inning. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, that was the only run the team could muster against Clemson freshman pitcher Valerie Cagle.
Cagle tossed a complete game, allowing one unearned run and striking out six. The youngster was tremendous in the circle.
The Tigers took control of the game with three runs in the top of the third. The scoring began when redshirt freshman catcher Jojo Hyatt launched a home run over the left field fence. Graduate student Ansley Gilstrap added an RBI single and eventually scored to make Clemson’s lead 3-1.
Momentum stayed with Clemson throughout the rest of the game, with the Tigers’ dugout rowdy for much of the day. As the game progressed, they sensed a potential sweep of the series and took advantage.
Gilstrap starred for Clemson, going 4-4 with three RBI. She was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. The infielder smacked a two-run triple to center field in the fourth to put Clemson up 5-1.
Clemson tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning, turning a somewhat competitive game into a blowout.
Virginia tried a handful of pitchers to slow down the Tigers, but the results were mixed. Junior left-handed pitcher Clare Zureich found arguably the most success for the Cavaliers. Zureich uses spins and off-speed pitches to fool batters, and Clemson struggled to adjust to her stuff after seeing more velocity earlier in the contest.
She pitched two shutout innings and allowed just one hit. She struck out two batters. Zureich was one of the team’s bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Sunday result.
The Cavaliers dropped the four games to Clemson by a combined 26-7. The bats were cold all weekend, and the pitching was sporadic.
On the bright side, the doubleheader Saturday was competitive. The Cavaliers lost those games 5-3 and 4-2. Clemson is one of the better teams in the league, and UVa held its own at times despite losing all four games.
“Our execution improved over the weekend, which is key as we continue moving into our ACC season,” Hardin said. “Our team chooses a growth mindset and I am confident that everyone in the program will show up tomorrow ready to work and prepare for our next game.”