CLEMSON SOFTBALL

Valerie Cagle started the strong, but the Blue Devils were able to tie up the game in the fourth inning while she was in the circle. (Clemson athletics photo)
Valerie Cagle started the strong, but the Blue Devils were able to tie up the game in the fourth inning while she was in the circle. (Clemson athletics photo)

Five-seed Tigers fall to one-seed Duke in extras in ACC semifinals


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Fifth-seeded Clemson softball led twice on the host and top-seed Duke, but the Blue Devils rallied and won in ten innings Friday afternoon, 4-3.

The Tigers (34-17) will now await their NCAA Tournament destination, while the Blue Devils (46-6) advanced to the ACC championship again. The result was a third loss in three tries to Duke in the ACC Softball Championships and a fourth win over Clemson this season.

Clemson jumped on top early after McKenzie Clark worked a leadoff walk in the first inning and Maddie Moore sent a no-doubt homer over the left field wall.

Valerie Cagle was a late switch for the start for Millie Thompson, and she limited the Blue Devils to a single hit in the first three innings. Duke did some damage after a throwing error from Moore at short in the fourth frame, however, with the runner scoring later on a two-out double from Jada Baker. The Blue Devils’ two-out rally continued with a Francesca Frelick RBI single to tie things up.

Duke put a runner in scoring position with one out in the fifth inning, but that runner eventually made the last out after leaving early on a Thompson pitch, which was called upon a review.

In the seventh inning, Clemson’s Lindsey Garcia sent the first offering from Duke’s Cassidy Curd deep over the left field wall to put Clemson on top, but Thompson was in trouble early in the bottom half of the frame after two Blue Devil singles to lead it off. After a groundout moved the runners up, Kelly Torres’ sac fly tied the game back up, but Thompson stranded the other runner to force extra innings, a second in a row for Duke after ten innings on Thursday against Boston College.

In the ninth inning and Regan Spencer (10-4) in the circle for Clemson, Claire Davidson led off with a single, and versus Duke’s Aminah Vega at the plate, Clark showed off her fielding skills by catching a deep shot that was going just over the fence to help bring the game to a 10th frame.

Spencer wasn’t as fortunate in the next inning, where two Blue Devils reached to lead off, and the Blue Devils’ Amiah Burgess got a hand to the plate before a tag, upon umpire review, to win the game after a tough ground ball on the infield off of Frelick’s bat.

Clemson is ranked as high as No. 21 in the polls, with Duke up to No. 5 in the same ranking (USA TODAY). The loss likely clinches that Clemson will not host an NCAA regional at McWhorter Stadium in a third consecutive season.


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