CLEMSON – Not too long ago, Jervey Meadows this time of year may have been a nice tailgate spot in the shadow of Doug Kingsmore Stadium for a closing ACC baseball series. On Friday in the trademark Palmetto State heat, it saw a celebration of a promising young Clemson program and a stadium packed to capacity to witness some history.
The No. 10 national seed Tigers hosted their first NCAA regional game in only their second full season as a program before a sold-out McWhorter Stadium (a stadium-record 1,760 fans) and notched a run-rule 9-0 win in five innings over 4- seed UNC-Wilmington (32-14).
Tigers left hander Millie Thompson (14-3) delivered an ace start from the circle to set Clemson up well for the rest of the tourney with five no-hit and shutout innings, for her eighth complete game of the season. The only two Seahawks to reach came via being hit by a pitch, tallying four strikeouts in just 49 pitches. It was her second 5-inning no-hit bid of the season.
Clemson (40-15) chased CAA pitcher of the year Emily Winstead (13-9) early to set the tone.
After giving up an RBI double to McKenzie ClarkWinstead seemed to settle down, getting Tiger power hitters Marissa Guimbarda and Valerie Cagle on swinging strikeouts, but shortstop Alia Logoleo opened things wide open with a two-run homer inside the left field pole.
After Winstead was pulled, third baseman Maddie Moore capped a 6-run first inning with an RBI double to the right field gap.
The Tigers tacked on to the lead in the third with a Cammy Pereira RBI grounder and Clark’s second RBI double of the game.
In the fourth, Logoleo picked up her third RBI of the effort on a grounder.
“Great win for the Tigers today. Really proud of the way we came out in that first inning,” Clemson coach John Rittman said. “I think that gave everyone an opportunity to take a deep breath. Millie, just an outstanding job in the circle. Anytime you throw a no-hitter – it’s special, but to do that in postseason, that’s one everyone will remember for the rest of our lives. Liked the way we continued to put pressure on their pitching staff – hit a lot of line drives today and had some great situational hitting…
“Total team effort today. Really proud of how we performed in our first home regional. Just a special moment for our program. We get 15-18 hours to enjoy it and we get to go back to work tomorrow and looking forward to that challenge ”
Clark finished 3-for-3 on the day at the plate.
“I think I’m doing OK,” Clark said with a smile of her hot streak lately. “I’m just trying to stay humble. See ball, hit ball and not think too much out there.”
McWhorter Stadium continued to be a fortress for Rittman‘s Tigers, with a 23-5 home record on the season and wins in 18 of the last 20 games.
The Tigers soaked in the atmosphere on a program-history-making day.
“As soon as I heard Millie’s walkout song come on, you just heard the whole crowd get up and get clapping,” Clark said. “That’s when I realized — and I looked at the berm and it was completely full. Normally I can spot my parents in the crowd, but I couldn’t even spot them today. It was absolutely insane for the first game.”
“It’s pretty amazing to see how much fan support we have,” said Thompson. “Obviously this is a work day for most people and we have a full crowd. It’s just amazing.”
Clemson plays at 1 pm on Saturday versus 2-seed Auburn (ESPN).
Six runs in the first frame has @clemsonsoftball off to a blistering start ??
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball)
May 20, 2022
— Clemson Softball?? (@clemsonsoftball)
May 20, 2022
All eyes are on @clemsonsoftball ????
1?,7?6?0? fans were in attendance at McWhorter Stadium this afternoon, setting an attendance record for the venue! pic.twitter.com/9FrCrIu0ct
— Clemson Athletics (@ClemsonTigers)
May 20, 2022
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