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The best article I have read on Valerie Cagle
Tiger Boards - Clemson Softball
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The best article I have read on Valerie Cagle

emoji_events [13]
May 19, 2022, 10:04 PM
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It's on The Athletic's website, but I accessed it without having a subscription.

https://theathletic.com/3321227/2022/05/19/valerie-cagle-clemson-softball-college-softball/


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"It is not part of a true culture to tame tigers any more than it is to make sheep ferocious."
--Henry David Thoreau


Since you accessed it without a subscription, just copy & paste it here!

emoji_events [8]
May 19, 2022, 10:09 PM
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It’s long

emoji_events [9]
May 20, 2022, 1:02 AM
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Clemson’s Valerie Cagle has taken college softball by storm: ‘That kid’s a beast’
Grace Raynor

CLEMSON, S.C. — It has been a little more than 15 months since Marcie Higgs, the softball head coach at North Florida, had to face Valerie Cagle, she of Clemson softball lore.

But Higgs still vividly remembers that Feb. 12, 2021, day for a couple of reasons. One, it forced her to re-think her strategy when it comes to attacking hitters.

“I call pitches for our team,” Higgs said. “And that’s the game I probably grew a lot as a pitch-caller.”

And two, she’s still not over it.

“I’m not scared at all remembering these details, by the way,” she said, laughing. “That kid’s a beast.”

Cagle tends to have that effect on people.

The 5-foot-9 right-handed pitcher and left-handed hitter from Yorktown, Va., entered the seventh inning of Clemson’s matchup with the Ospreys that spring afternoon with the Tigers trailing 3-2. She already had hit one home run in the game, a first-inning blast that went over the center-field wall and gave Clemson a 2-0 lead. Now the Tigers needed her again.

With one out and a runner on first base, Cagle again tattooed a line drive over the center-field fence for another two-run homer that gave Clemson a 4-3 lead. Minutes later, she took the circle to close out the game for the Tigers and earned her first career save.

“Of course she did,” Higgs said, partially in jest but partially in despair. “She literally just did it all.”

Cagle has taken college softball by storm since she joined Clemson’s inaugural team in 2020 as the rare player who pitches and hits — the rare dual-threat who can and will change the dynamic of a game on any given day. In 2020, she hit 10 home runs — good for 10th in the nation — and had 36 RBIs — good for second in the nation — with a .376 batting average, while posting a team-high eight complete games. In 2021, she won ACC Player of the Year honors with a .404 batting average and a 1.16 ERA, the latter of which ranked 11th nationally and tied for first in the ACC.

And in 2022, even if her numbers have dipped, she’s still hitting .304 with a 2.05 ERA. This weekend, Cagle and the Tigers, who earned the No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, will host a regional for the first time in program history when UNC Wilmington, Auburn and Louisiana Lafayette travel to McWhorter Stadium, starting Friday.

As Cagle prepares for one of the biggest stages of her softball career, The Athletic spoke with 10 people about her as a hitter, pitcher and competitor for their best stories regarding arguably the most dominant athlete on Clemson’s campus.

“There is not one player in the country who can do what she does at such an elite level on both sides of the ball,” ESPN commentator and UCLA alum Jen Schroeder said. “She can pitch and she can hit at the most elite level in the game.”

Cagle’s travel ball coach, Chad Radcliffe, from the Hanover Hornets in Virginia put it succinctly: “She’s a different breed.”

Cagle the hitter

Radcliffe can remember arriving at the Hornets’ practices when he coached Cagle from ages 14 to 18, only to learn that Cagle, who lived an hour away and was homeschooled, had already been at the field with her father, Mark, hitting anywhere between five and seven buckets of balls before practice. She was 12 when Radcliffe first met her, and even then, it was apparent something was different about her.

“Once I saw her swing the bat,” he said, “I knew that Valerie was going to be a special kind of player.”

One of Radcliffe’s most memorable moments with Cagle came when the latter was around 15 or 16 years old and the Hornets were playing in a national tournament. Cagle blasted a home run into center field that had so much velocity on it that the stadium fell silent while spectators tried to make sense of what had just happened.

“Valerie hit a ball that was probably neck-high past the pitcher, and it just literally went out of the 200-foot fence and never really got much higher than that,” Radcliffe said. “Everybody was like, ‘What happened? Did it get stuck in the fence? Did she hit it through the fence?’”

Afterward, the commentator calling the game went up to Radcliffe to tell him that he originally thought the hit was a double.

“He was like, ‘I’ve never seen a ball go that fast,’” Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe, for his part, couldn’t have been surprised, given what he knew about Cagle’s work ethic and athleticism. For years, he had listened to her talk about her goal of hitting a ball 300 feet over a men’s softball field during front toss drills, which she eventually accomplished at 16 years old.

“That’s just absolutely smoking the ball,” he said. “It’s like a game to her.”

Another moment that Radcliffe can recall vividly came when Cagle was around 14 years old and the Hornets were playing several games in Atlanta. Unlike the line-drive home run, this homer had so much height on it that the ball hit the top half of a light pole before it ever came down on its descent.

“We were playing in Atlanta,” said Jodie Coleman, an assistant coach with the Hornets at the time, “and it was a 200-foot, 210-foot fence, and it was still climbing. She just has tremendous talent.”

At Clemson, there are already myriad moments to choose from when head coach John Rittman and assistant coach Courtney Breault think about Cagle’s career. But Breault is partial to a Cagle home run against NC State on April 23, 2021, and the series Cagle had at Louisville from March 19-21, 2021, when she went 9-of-14 with six RBIs on the heels of throwing 11 scoreless innings in Game 1 with 14 strikeouts.

On the NC State home run, Breault said the pull-side bomb was “one of the most impressive” hits she has seen.

“It’s one thing to do it at practice, but to do it in a game like that … that was the first pull-side one that we saw her get a hold of,” Breault said.

The Louisville series further proved to her just how unique Cagle’s skillset is.

“Friday night, under the lights, she threw 11 shutout innings. That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Breault said. “She just had a monster weekend.”

But perhaps her favorite memories of all — or at least her most memorable ones — have come when she and Cagle have home run derby competitions against each other at practice. Cagle is fiercely competitive, Breault said, which she teases her about. To make it fair, Cagle, a left-handed hitter, recently hit right-handed.

“And she beat me,” Breault said. “And I was just like, ‘Are you kidding me, kid?’”

Radcliffe believes Cagle would win any home run competition she entered. His daughter, Saxon Radcliffe, who played with Cagle with the Hornets and caught for her as a catcher, tends to agree.

“The balls I’ve seen her hit out of the park, I’ve never seen balls hit that far in my entire life,” Saxon Radcliffe said. “(She could enter) a home run derby with some baseball guys, and she would give them a good run for their money.”


Valerie Cagle has a 2.05 ERA this season, while batting .304. (Courtesy of Erin Francese / Clemson Athletics)
Cagle the pitcher

Saxon Radcliffe hasn’t shared this often, except for once or twice when she wanted to boost Cagle’s confidence, but Cagle threw so hard in travel ball that Saxon would have to ice her hand afterward … for nearly a full week.

“My hand was bruised. It was bruised afterward. She throws hard now, but she threw hard back when we were in travel ball. She smoked everyone,” Saxon Radcliffe said. “I’d have to get a little guard on my thumb so she wouldn’t break my thumb, honestly.”

Chad Radcliffe remembers Cagle being a tad wild with her pitches in her early days — which wasn’t unusual for young players — but said he knew she would be a dual-threat player when the Hornets played the Tampa Mustangs at a national event and a 15-year-old Cagle struck out about a dozen batters.

“She had her fastball really working well, and then her changeup was just one fire,” he said. “She throws a very hard, down, fast drop ball, which you still see in college today. And then she mixes it in with that changeup. And I think when she puts those two together, she’s deadly.”

Rittman said that as a pitcher, Cagle throws three different speeds, has high velocity and fields her position “extremely well.” She has more wins (15), appearances (30), starts (24) and complete games (14) than any other pitcher on Clemson’s roster. She is also the only Tigers pitcher with triple-digit strikeouts (166), while the next-highest number of strikeouts, 99, belongs to sophomore Millie Thompson.

“She has kind of an off-speed rise ball that, when it’s on, it’s filthy,” Rittman said. “And it’s just like, you combine that with her drop ball, a high-velocity, 70 mph drop ball, and it just baffles hitters. I’ve witnessed that for the last 2 1/2 seasons.”

Breault said Cagle added the off-speed rise ball in 2020, right around the time Clemson was preparing to play Georgia in February and Cagle started working on it with pitching coach Kyle Jamieson. She tested it against the Bulldogs to see how it would work and tossed seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball en route to Clemson’s first win against a ranked opponent in program history.

“It came around that week where it was like, ‘Oh, we might have found this pitch. Let’s just try it,’” Breault said. “And then all of a sudden, it’s been something that’s kind of carried her through.”

Saxon Radcliffe knows from years of catching Cagle that it can be nearly impossible for batters to predict where Cagle’s ball will land because of how much movement she has on her pitches. In that regard, catching her was both difficult and initially terrifying for Saxon Radcliffe, who also had a hard time tracking Cagle’s pitches.

To this day, Saxon Radcliffe, who is in the transfer portal after a brief stint at East Tennessee State, said she hopes to never see Cagle in a competitive setting.

“I will confidently say that she is the one pitcher in the world of college softball that I never want to face,” she said. “And I know what she throws.”

Cagle the competitor

Kayla Lombardo played softball at Fordham and now covers the sport for Softball America.

She said Cagle started to put the softball world on notice when she hit 10 home runs during the 2020 season, cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the moment that really stands out? When Alabama’s crowd gave Cagle a standing ovation at the Tuscaloosa regional a season ago.

Alabama ended Clemson’s season by beating the Tigers twice, first 6-0 and then 5-0, but before Cagle exited the mound for the final time, the Crimson Tide fans made sure to pay respect where it was due by giving her a standing ovation when Rittman pulled her.

“When you think about a program like Alabama … those fans are all about their team,” Lombardo said, adding that the Crimson Tide have produced some of the sport’s top competitors. “It is one of the hardest places to play in the entire country. The fact that they got to their feet, thousands of people, and were cheering for this relative newcomer on this newcomer of a team, was a really powerful moment. It just spoke to the impact that Valerie had already made.”

Rittman said pulling Cagle when it became clear the game was out of reach was an emotional moment for him and recalled telling Cagle how much she already had meant to Clemson’s program.

“Then when she walked off the field, and to see the opposing crowd giving her a standing ovation, that was something that I’ll remember forever,” he said.

Cagle’s career is far from over — she still has two more years of eligibility after this season — but that’s the kind of competitor she has become as one of the sport’s most respected players. Morgan Hollifield, a Clemson season ticket holder, takes her 3-year-old son to games and teaches him about what’s going on in the sport, in part, through some of Cagle’s plays.

“Yeah, she’s a great pitcher. She’s a phenomenal pitcher. But how many pitchers are actually phenomenal at both aspects?” Hollifield said.

The answer is not many. When Schroeder thinks of Cagle and her legacy on college softball one day, she thinks about Lauren Haeger, the Florida star who in 2015 joined Babe Ruth as the only players in Division I softball, baseball or Major League Baseball history to hit 70 home runs and notch 70 wins on the mound.

Haeger is rooting for Cagle to join Haeger in that club. Clemson’s star currently has 39 home runs and 52 wins.

“Records and all those things are meant to be broken,” Haeger said. “I think as long as she can not get consumed in those things, at the end of the day, she’s gonna be remembered as being one of the best hitting pitchers of all time.”

But first, Cagle is hoping to advance Clemson into a super regional, something that is certainly within reach for the Tigers … in just their third season and second full season.

“I was scared of Valerie Cagle in the postseason,” Schroeder said of a determined Cagle last season.

Added Lombardo: “If not this year, I think you could see Valerie and Clemson at the World Series sometime soon.”

“I think the best moment in her career is yet to come, to be honest.”

(Top photo: Courtesy of Valerie Johnson / Clemson Athletics)

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Re: It’s long

[4]
May 20, 2022, 1:16 AM
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Thanks.

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"It is not part of a true culture to tame tigers any more than it is to make sheep ferocious."
--Henry David Thoreau


"Things she never said, for $2000, Alex."


May 21, 2022, 10:53 AM
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:(

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Re: The best article I have read on Valerie Cagle

emoji_events [5]
May 20, 2022, 3:05 AM
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She is one heck of a player. One of the best I have seen play. She will put Clemson women’s
softball on the national map. In fact I give kudos to the coaching staff , players and support staff.

I love the drop ball Cagle throws. It’s almost impossible to hit when it’s really working. And she is great at changing speed’s really well.

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Re: The best article I have read on Valerie Cagle

[1]
May 20, 2022, 6:14 AM
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She is one heck of a player. One of the best I have seen play. She will put Clemson women’s
softball on the national map. In fact I give kudos to the coaching staff , players and support staff.

I love the drop ball Cagle throws. It’s almost impossible to hit when it’s really working. And she is great at changing speed’s really well.



But who will limit the men’s softball team on the map?

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Trying to figure you out jstone

[4]
May 20, 2022, 8:19 AM
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If you lived in Johnstone D329 as your username suggests, the D section having closed as dorms in 1995, then you have to be at least around 50 years old or older and male. So you're one of those old white men you like to talk about. I'm not sure what your Cobbox username suggests.

Serious question - why are you so concerned with people adding lady or women to female sports teams when there isn't a men's team in that sport? I've heard women do it. It's not really as big a deal as you make it. And it's not disrespectful. How about we survey the softball, volleyball, and gymnastics team and see if they feel disrespected by being referred to as lady Tigers.

But since that's how you feel, we understand. But you don't need to keep bringing it up every time it happens. After so many times, we get it; you could just copy paste a form response. Now it just seems like you want to start something. And if you reply to my message, you don't really need to reprint it. It will already be above your reply.

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Re: Trying to figure you out jstone

[1]
May 20, 2022, 12:41 PM
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Great questions and I would love to answer.

I am an old white male

I am not now nor have i ever been associated with the screen name cobbox. That was started by folks who have an empty life so they spend too much time on T-net. I do have a 2nd screen user name but not cobbox. I know some wont believe this but i really don't care as this is a message board and has no real impact on my life

We (Clemson) have never really had a good women's sport to embrace. I know soccer is good but has not caught the imagination of our fanbase like softball. I noticed a difference in terms of how our team was addressed on this message board and how the team addressed themselves in press releases, tweets plus how the press (Hood & others) addressed the team. While i am far from woke and only believe there are two genders, i did raise daughters so i am sensitive to showing a reasonable level of respect for women so i did some research. I found that the players should be simply addressed in the same style as we would for a Men's sport. The term(s) girls, ladies, Tigeress, or anything other than players, Tigers or student athletes carries a connotation of something lesser. It's as if they are players but only for a girls team so it something less than a men's sport. I know some on here mean no harm but are simply stuck in the past but for others they seem determined to demean the team.

I started commenting on it in good faith but instead of acknowledging it for what it was they started attacking. So now its a game for me to see which old man i can trigger. At some point i will likely grow tired of messing with them.

FWIW i have noticed some have made the effort to address the team in a respectful manner and i do appreciate that effort.

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Re: Trying to figure you out jstone

[1]
May 20, 2022, 3:42 PM
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---"I started commenting on it in good faith but instead of acknowledging it for what it was they started attacking. So now its a game for me to see which old man i can trigger. At some point i will likely grow tired of messing with them."

That's trolling, which you freely admit you've been doing and will continue to do for the time being. It's explicitly against the forum rules (relevant rule listed below). Should be enough for a ban to put an end to this nonsense

-------------------
You agree, through your use of the TigerNet forums or chat, that you will not use the forum or chat to post any material which is knowingly:
.
.
14. Trolling (posting to purposefully antagonize other posters)
.
.

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Re: Trying to figure you out jstone


May 20, 2022, 4:17 PM
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jdtiger98 said:

---"I started commenting on it in good faith but instead of acknowledging it for what it was they started attacking. So now its a game for me to see which old man i can trigger. At some point i will likely grow tired of messing with them."

That's trolling, which you freely admit you've been doing and will continue to do for the time being. It's explicitly against the forum rules (relevant rule listed below). Should be enough for a ban to put an end to this nonsense

-------------------
You agree, through your use of the TigerNet forums or chat, that you will not use the forum or chat to post any material which is knowingly:
.
.
14. Trolling (posting to purposefully antagonize other posters)
.
.



I try to educate. Some don’t appreciate it and instead of ignoring or blocking me they try to bully me as you just did but it won’t work. So good luck to you as you seem overly concerned about something in the digital realm which has no impact on your actual life

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LOL okayyyyy Cobb.***

[1]
May 20, 2022, 4:13 PM
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Tell us more about your second screen user name...

[1]
May 20, 2022, 4:19 PM
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B-Meist®

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Re: Tell us more about your second screen user name...


May 20, 2022, 4:46 PM
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And the bully trolls appear.

It actually belongs to a close friend…

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Re: Tell us more about your second screen user name...

[1]
May 20, 2022, 4:48 PM
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And for good measure I just scored two tickets to the game(s) tomorrow!

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Re: Tell us more about your second screen user name...


May 20, 2022, 9:58 PM
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That's awesome! Cheer our Lady Tigers on to victory!

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Now he’s calling his other personality a “close friend”…

[2]
May 21, 2022, 5:15 AM
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This is just sad, actually.

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Re: Now he’s calling his other personality a “close friend”…

[3]
May 21, 2022, 6:32 AM
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Now that’s funny. I wonder if he draws eyeballs on his knuckles.

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“I have 2 screen names but this here internet thingy message

[2]
May 21, 2022, 7:41 AM
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board has no real impact on my life”


You’re a loser.


But our Lady Tiger Varsity Women’s Softball Team is a winner !!!

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Brad Brownell: all-time losingest coach in Clemson men's basketball history, and only coach to beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


Re: The best article I have read on Valerie Cagle


May 21, 2022, 10:04 AM
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I generally don’t care about women’s sports, but for some reason I kind of get into softball and way more than college baseball. Cagle is just fun to watch and she might be the best in the country.

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