Clemson Softball sets sights on Massive ACC Tilt with Top-Ranked Duke

It is time to honor the Clemson Softball senior class. And hopefully, honor them with some big wins.

The 2024 Clemson Tigers (#17/19, 28-11, 11-4 ACC) host the Duke Blue Devils (#1/3, 33-4, 13-2 ACC) in a matchup that is sure to set the stage for conference goals and postseason aspirations. For these Clemson seniors, the ones who have taken this program to the heights they’ve been able to reach in its 5-year infancy, it marks an important benchmark for the possibilities of reaching the lofty expectations they’ve set for themselves in the final season of their careers: hosting another regional, winning a super regional, and making the program’s first Women’s College World Series.

The Tigers will look for a memorable final home performance from seniors like outfielder McKenzie Clark, pitchers Regan Spencer and Millie Thompson, and utility player Valerie Cagle. Clark leads the team with a .368 batting average, entering the weekend series on a 10-game hitting streak. Look for McKenzie to be on the move this weekend – She is only one stolen base from tying the all-time program record (46). Spencer has one 13 straight games in the circle, while posting a top-10 ERA in the country (0.82). Thompson looks to build on her last outing, where she posted a no-hitter save through 3 innings and 4 strikeouts against rival South Carolina. Cagle will look to cap her Ring-of-Honor type career with more home runs. One homer will give her a tie with the all-time career ACC record (66), and seven will see Valerie meet the goal she set at the start of her Clemson career (72).

Duke, on the other hand, will look to spoil the high hopes of the senior class with a series win of their own. The 2024 team is good enough to do so – These Blue Devils are elite.

Behind utility player Claire Davidson (.451, 13 HR) and infielder Aminah Vega (.402, 9 HR), Duke will bring some powerful bats to McWhorter’s home-run-friendly ballpark. Add that to the challenges senior pitchers Lillie Walker (0.87 ERA, 9 W) and Jala Wright (1.06 ERA, 101 SO) present in the circle, and it makes sense that this Duke team is ranked as high as #1 in national polls and holds the top spot in the ACC regular-season standings.

Things to look for going into this huge 3-game set: Keep an eye on Valerie Cagle’s health this weekend. She was held out of the game against South Carolina earlier this week due to concussion protocol. Her availability will go a long way in determining Clemson’s success in this series.

Also be on the lookout for how Duke responds to some recent adversity. Coming off of the highest national ranking in this program’s 7-year history, the Blue Devils were stunned by the Campbell Camels in their midweek game – losing 3-2 at home on Wednesday night for their first home loss of the season.

The three-game heavyweight tilt between the Tigers and the Blue Devils starts on Friday night at 7pm inside McWhorter Stadium. Senior day will be Saturday with game two’s first pitch around 1pm, followed by the conclusion of the series coming on Sunday at 6pm.

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