Clemson Falls to Duke 1-0 in ACC Softball Championship
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In an ACC Championship matchup that featured two of the league’s top pitchers, Duke came out victorious over the top-seeded Tigers in a well-fought 1-0 shutout. Clemson was led by ace and ACC Player-of-the-Year Valerie Cagle, who allowed just two hits and struck out 13 batters, one shy of tying her career high.
In Clemson’s first postseason opportunity, the Tigers mustered three hits and were unable to string any together in the same inning, which ultimately led to the shutout loss. Duke starter Shelby Walters (17-3) earned the win in her five innings, while Payton St. George entered the game in the sixth inning and retired all six batters she faced to earn the two-inning save and deliver the third-seeded Blue Devils their first ever ACC Championship in just their fourth season.
The lone run of the game crossed the plate in the sixth inning when a soft ground ball to Clemson shortstop Ansley Gilstrap allowed enough time for Deja Davis, who reached on an infield single, to score the decisive run. In her third complete game of the tournament, Cagle allowed only three batted balls to leave the infield, only one of which fell for a hit, while none came in the sixth inning that produced the winning run.
Despite the loss, Cagle (26-5) and Cammy Pereira were named to the ACC All-Tournament Team. For the tournament, Cagle scattered just six hits in 21 innings pitched, allowing only one run while also hitting a home run at the plate. Pereira was responsible for the only two runs of the quarterfinal against Georgia Tech on Thursday with two solo home runs.
Up next, the Tigers await to learn their NCAA postseason fate, which will be announced during the 2021 NCAA Softball bracket selection show on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. Sunday’s selection show is set to broadcast on ESPN2. On April 30, the NCAA Division I Softball Committee announced Clemson as one 20 predetermined preliminary round sites for this year’s Division I Softball Championship. All games of the NCAA Division I Softball Championship will be broadcast on ESPN’s family of networks with regionals taking place May 21-23, followed by super regionals May 27-30. The 2021 championship will culminate with the Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from June 3-9.