Sports, Spring, Softball

Cagle’s No-Hitter Completes Tigers’ Series Sweep of BC

After opening its four-game weekend series with three straight losses to No. 17 Clemson, Boston College softball was looking to close out the series on a different note on Sunday afternoon. Fresh off a devastating extra-innings loss on a walk-off error, the Eagles seemed like they might have enough fight left and a big enough chip on their shoulder to finally outlast the Tigers. 

Clemson (31-4, 21-4), however, was hungry for a series sweep and to add to its 11-game win streak. The Tigers brought the same high energy as their last three wins over the Eagles (8-24, 4-16). After seven innings, Clemson pulled away with its fourth win of the weekend and brought its overall win streak up to 12 with a 6-0 victory.

Valerie Cagle pitched her second no-hitter of the week, ending the game with 250 career strikeouts. Her dynamic pitching proved to be an issue for the Eagles, who struck out a total of nine times.

Clemson took off with an early lead and played lockdown defense from the outset. The Tigers ended the first inning ahead by one, thanks to an RBI double by Cagle that allowed McKenzie Clark to slide into home. 

Clemson added another one to the board at the bottom of the second as Clark singled up the middle, sending Carlee Shannon, who was pinch running for Kyah Keller, into home. BC, on the other hand, struggled—as was the case all game long.

BC held the Tigers quiet in the third after Clemson’s Marissa Guimbarda reached on a single to lead off the inning. Arielle Oda came in to pinch run, but she did not make it past second, as BC’s starter Peyton Schnackenberg retired the next three Tigers in order.

The Eagles also held their own in the bottom of the fourth, holding the determined Tigers scoreless and hitless. But, despite some defensive momentum, BC’s offense failed to find a spark as the top of the fifth followed with a swift BC strikeout and two groundouts. 

Cagle started off the bottom of the fifth strong for Clemson, hitting the ball out of the park and advancing the Tigers’ lead to 3-0. Clemson’s next two batters reached base as well, leading to runners on first and second with no outs. Schnackenberg retired the next two Clemson hitters before Alia Logoleo stepped up to the plate and broke the game open. 

With one swing of the bat, Logoleo brought Clemson’s lead up to six. That was the last run Clemson would score and the last pitch Schnackenberg would throw. After Schnackenberg gave up the three-run play, BC head coach Amy Kvilhaug switched things up and brought in CC Cook to pitch in relief. Cook quickly worked her way out of the inning after Cammy Pereira grounded out to first, but the damage had been done. 

Cagle continued her dominance in the sixth, striking out one Eagle and forcing two to ground out. Cook was similarly successful in the bottom of the inning, managing to hold Clemson scoreless despite allowing a walk and a hit. 

When BC took its last chance at the plate in the top of the seventh, prospects were all but hopeless. Cagle already had eight strikeouts over six innings, and the only Eagle to reach base all game did so on a second-inning Clemson error. 

Cagle added another strikeout to her resume in the seventh, as she retired BC’s batters in order with a strikeout looking and two groundouts. 

While Sunday’s game was BC’s worst offensive showing of the weekend, the Eagles’ bats did not look much better in their other three weekend matchups with Clemson. In four games across the weekend, BC scored just five runs while allowing 26. 

Pitching and lack of offense were not the only challenges for the Eagles throughout the Clemson series, as they also recorded at least one error in each of the four games. BC had just one defensive flub Sunday, but had a total of five over Saturday’s two games and an additional two on Friday. 

Clemson’s sweep of BC came just after the Eagles showed signs of a late effort to turn their season around. BC entered into the weekend series riding a two-game win streak after splitting a four-game series with Syracuse. Nonetheless, that momentum proved to be just a momentary hot streak in an otherwise bleak season.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff

April 18, 2021