By Johnny Falduto
On Sunday, Clemson softball was selected as the No. 16 national seed for the NCAA softball tournament, marking the second consecutive season the Tigers will host an NCAA Regional at McWhorter Stadium.
The Tigers (46-9) will open double-elimination play on Friday, May 19th at 3 p.m. against UNC Greensboro (37-20), who punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a walk-off home run in the SoCon title game last week.
At-large bids Auburn (40-17) and Cal State Fullerton (33-19) round out the Clemson regional, and will immediately follow the Clemson-UNC Greensboro game on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Clemson Regional Schedule
- Game 1: Clemson vs UNC Greensboro - 3 p.m. Friday, May 19
- Game 2: Auburn vs Cal State Fullerton - 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 19
- Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20
- Game 4: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20
- Game 5: 6 p.m. Saturday, May 20
- Game 6: noon Sunday, May 21
- Game 7: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 21 (if necessary)
The winner of the Clemson regional will move on to face the winner of the Norman Regional, hosted by No. 1 national seed Oklahoma. If Oklahoma wins the Norman regional, they will host the super regional. If any team other than Oklahoma wins the Norman regional and Clemson wins its regional, the super regionals would be held at McWhorter Stadium.
Clemson-UNC Greensboro Preview
After a 37-1 start to the season, the Tigers go into Friday’s regional contest 9-8 in their last 17 games, including a 2-0 no-hit loss to Duke in the ACC Championship Semifinals. The team is led by two-way star and Collegiate Player of the Year finalist Valerie Cagle and boasts of one of the best pitching staffs in the country, which sits at No. 2 in Division I softball with a 1.33 team ERA.
UNC Greensboro enters regional play winners of eight of their last nine, including their last six straight, outscoring opponents 30-9 over that stretch.
Offensively, the team is led by sophomore Jorde Chartrand, who hits a team-high .385 at the plate. Rhyann Jones is 11-2 with a 2.35 ERA in the circle, holding batters to a .265 average across 101.1 innings pitched.
Clemson is 2-0 against UNC Greensboro this season, defeating the Spartans 3-0 on March 10th and 6-1 on March 11th, both at McWhorter Stadium.
Auburn-Cal State Fullerton Preview
Auburn enters the Clemson regional as the No. 2 seed coming off a 3-2 loss to South Carolina in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
Nelia Peralta leads the charge offensively for the Tigers, hitting a team-best .336 with 50 hits and nine home runs on the season. Denver Bryant, Makayla Packer, and Carlee McCondichie also hit above the .300-mark. In the circle, Tigers’ ace Maddie Penta is among the nation’s best. Her 1.10 ERA ranks No. 10 in Division I softball, and her 25-5 record is sixth-best in the nation. As a team, their 2.14 ERA is good for 23rd in the country.
Cal State Fullerton, the No. 3 seed in the Clemson Regional, enters postseason play with a 33-19 record and a second-place finish in the Big West.
The top slugger in the Cal State Fullerton lineup is junior infielder Hannah Becerra, who leads the team with eight home runs and 28 runs batted in. Daisy Munoz leads the team with 42 hits, and Alexa Neil hits a team-best .289. Senior Myka Sutherlin has been outstanding for the Titans all season in the circle, holding a 19-9 record and a 1.30 ERA, good for 15th-best in the country. Haley Rainey has also been a huge boost for the Titans’ pitching staff, posting a 1.47 ERA across 100.1 innings of work through the regular season.
TV, Radio Broadcast Info
Game 1 of the Clemson regional on Friday at 3 p.m. between the hosting Tigers and UNC Greensboro will be broadcast on ESPNU. Game 2 is set for first pitch at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
As always, all Clemson softball games throughout the postseason will be live on the air on the Clemson Athletic Network - 105.5/97.5, theroarfm.com/listen, or The ROAR App.