Clemson rides big rally to wrap invitational with win


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Clemson returns for its home opener at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. (Clemson athletics photo)
Clemson returns for its home opener at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. (Clemson athletics photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Trailing 9-4 entering the top of the sixth, the Clemson Softball team scored 15 straight runs in the final two innings of the game to defeat St. John’s 19-9 on Sunday at UCF Softball Complex. Marissa Guimbarda’s single up the middle in the top of the seventh inning gave Clemson the lead, at which point the Tigers did not look back. Clemson went on to score another eight runs in the inning with help of MK Bonamy, who recorded her first career grand slam in the top of the seventh. Freshman pitcher Valerie Cagle, who hit her first career home run in today’s first at bat, also earned her first career win in the circle.

Clemson led 4-2 entering the bottom of the fourth, but the Red Storm scored four runs before the inning was over, and then three in the fifth, to take a 9-4 lead entering the sixth. Freshman Abi Stuart led off for the Tigers in the top of the sixth and – in her first career at-bat – homered to center field on the first pitch of the inning, which kick started the Tigers’ late-game run. Clemson scored two more runs in the top of the inning to cut the St. John’s lead to one. After a Red Storm single through the right side in the bottom of the sixth, Clemson Head Coach John Rittman, re-entered Cagle, who started the game for the Tigers, into the circle. With runners on first and second, St. John’s laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners successfully, but Cagle forced back-to-back groundouts to end the inning with her team down two runs.

The Tigers setup Guimbarda’s eventual game-winning hit with Morgan Johnson and Stuart – the first two batters of the seventh inning – reaching base safely before Cammy Pereira singled up the middle to put both Johnson and Stuart in scoring position. Then, Bonamy hit another single up the middle to score Johnson and Stuart, which tied the game, and brought Guimbarda to the plate. Clemson scored on five more at-bats, including Bonamy’s grand slam.

Left fielder Grace Mattimore, a transfer from Army West Point who joined the team in January, was also effective for the Tigers, going 2-for-3 on the day along with four RBIs.

With the win, Clemson improved to 2-3 on the season, while St. John’s fell to 0-4.

Up next, Clemson is set for its inaugural home opener – a doubleheader against Western Carolina – on Wednesday, Feb. 12. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday’s matchup against the Catamounts is slated to be the first-ever softball game to air on ACC Network.

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