CLEMSON, S.C. — The Clemson Softball (34-4, 23-5 ACC) team posted three home runs against the ACC’s home run leader, NC State, to win its 14th straight game by a final score of 9-3 at McWhorter Stadium in game No. 1 of Friday’s doubleheader. Clemson’s Valerie Cagle (11), Marissa Guimbarda (10) and McKenzie Clark (7) all homered to give the Tigers 50 home runs on the season. Clemson’s performance marked the fifth time this season the Tigers notched at least three home runs in a single game and the 16th occasion in which it has recorded multiple home runs in a single game this season.
With the win, Clemson improved 27-0 when homering at least once, and 41-0 all-time and 24-0 this season when scoring at least five runs.
Cagle (22-3), who was named a USA Softball Top-25 Player of the Year Finalist on Friday, earned the win in the circle after going the distance, her 20th complete game of the season. Cagle tallied 10 strikeouts, while giving up just one earned run on six hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch.
Cagle kicked off the scoring in the first after crushing a solo home run that sailed over the McWhorter Stadium scoreboard. Cagle’s 11th home run of the season flew 272 feet with an exit velocity of 79.9 mph. Her homer also marked the seventh occasion this season in which Cagle earned the win in the circle and recorded at least one home run. Immediately after Cagle’s homer, Guimbarda tallied her 10th home run of the season on another shot to right-center field to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
NC State scored its first run of the contest in the top of the third after the Tigers registered back-to-back errors in the infield.
Clemson piled on four additional runs in the bottom of the third. The Wolfpack elected to intentionally walk Cagle to load the bases for Guimbarda with one out. Guimbard then knocked in her 34th RBI of the season on a fielder’s choice and an NC State throwing error bounced past the catcher to allow one more run to score on the play. With the first triple of her career, Kyah Keller raked in two more runs for the Tigers on a ball that bounced past the NC State left fielder, who made a diving effort, but could not come up with the catch.
Clark blasted the Tigers’ third homer of the game in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run shot to left-center field, increasing the Clemson lead to 8-2. Clemson added one more insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on the corners, Clemson grounded into a double play, but it allowed Casey Bigham, who was on third, to cross the plate uncontested.
The Wolfpack trimmed the Clemson lead as NC State’s April Visser recorded a solo shot to left-center field to cut the Tigers’ lead to 9-3. The homer was the first surrendered by Cagle in nearly a month with the last one coming against Duke on March 26. Additionally, Cagle had not allowed a single earned run in her previous 36.0 innings pitched.
NC State starting pitcher Estelle Czech (3-3) suffered the loss after pitching 3.1 innings, allowing eight runs (four unearned) and two walks. Czech and Sydney Nester, who relieved Czech in the fourth, combined to only strike out three batters.
Up next, Clemson and NC State (24-14, 14-12 ACC) return to McWhorter Stadium for game No. 2 of Friday’s doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 7:49 p.m. and is slated to stream on ACCNX