Sports, Spring, Softball

Eagles Let up 15 Runs Over Two Games, Drop Doubleheader to No. 5 Clemson

Coming into Friday, No. 5 Clemson softball had only been upended by one opponent, No. 3 Tennessee. Winners of 19 consecutive games, the Tigers have been virtually unbeatable this season.

That narrative did not change at all when the Tigers visited Harrington Athletics Village for a doubleheader against Boston College softball.

With its deep and powerful lineup leading the way, Clemson (35–1, 11–0 Atlantic Coast) slugged its way past the Eagles (16–16, 1–7) Friday afternoon to sweep the doubleheader, winning the first game 8–4 and the second game 7–3. The Tigers used key home runs in the late innings to defeat the Eagles and extend their win streak to 21 games. 

“When you have a team that is that stacked, you know, somebody is bound to run into a ball, and that’s what happened,” BC head coach Amy Kvilhaug said. “We had somebody run into a ball in game one and somebody run into a ball in game two.”

In the second game of the doubleheader, BC fell behind 2–0 in the first inning. Clemson’s middle of the order pieced together a two-out rally to take the early advantage. BC starting pitcher Abby Dunning struggled with her command a bit in the first inning, walking two batters and hitting another. 

The Eagles, however, responded in the bottom of the second inning to take their first lead of the afternoon. BC found success by simply putting the ball in play via Erika Andal and Maddy Carpe, taking advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Tigers. The Eagles capitalized on Clemson’s three errors in the inning to take a 3–2 lead. 

“We made their pitchers work,” Kvilhaug said. “We were being ridiculously selective with our pitch selection, and, you know, we made them have to come into the zone.”

Clemson’s bats woke up again in the fifth inning, and the Tigers knotted the score at 3–3. McKenzie Clark led off the frame with a rocket off the top of the left field fence for a double. With one out, Valerie Cagle stepped to the plate and dropped an RBI single into center to plate the Tigers’ third run of the game. 

The big blow for the Eagles came in the sixth inning when Clark crushed a pitch over the right center field fence for a go-ahead, three-run bomb. The home run capped off a two-hit, three-RBI game for the junior.

“Their lineup is so hard to pitch to because if six kids aren’t doing their job, three are gonna do it—somebody is going to do the job,” Kvilhaug said. 

BC’s bats were silent after the second inning for the most part, as the Eagles only mustered two hits after that point. Cagle pitched five shutout innings for the Tigers in relief of Regan Spencer. 

Clemson tacked on another run in the seventh inning on an Arielle Oda RBI double to put the finishing touches on the 7–3 win and doubleheader sweep. 

“The name of the game was their hitters did what they had to do—their hitters are good,” Kvilhaug said. “But our pitchers still did a good job overall of holding that team because not many teams finish their games with [Clemson]. They’re usually over in five innings with the eight-run rule.”

In the afternoon’s first contest, BC went down 2–0 in the top of the second inning but responded in the bottom half of the inning when Carpe launched a two-run homer to center field. But the Tigers regained a one-run lead the next half inning thanks to an Andal error. 

Clemson starting pitcher Millie Thompson shut down the Eagles after Carpe’s home run, retiring 10 batters in a row to finish her outing. Thompson improved to 11–0 on the season with her winning performance in the circle. 

With the Tigers ahead 3–2 in the top of the sixth inning, BC starting pitcher Susannah Anderson began to falter. After getting leadoff hitter Clark to pop out, Anderson failed to retire another batter, and the next five Tigers all crossed home plate. An Aby Viera three-run shot followed a Cagle two-run homer, and Clemson extended its lead to six. 

“I thought [Susannah] threw a good game today,” Kvilhaug said. “But I just think that their hitters stepped up in a moment.” 

BC plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but it was not enough to overcome Clemson’s high-octane lineup. The Tigers tallied 10 total hits in the 8–4 victory.

April 2, 2023