By Johnny Falduto
After clinching the Clemson Regional title for the second consecutive season with a 5-1 win over Auburn last Sunday, the Tigers (49-10, 18-6 ACC) head to Norman for a best-of-3 Super Regional set against No. 1 national seed Oklahoma (54-1, 18-0 SEC) with a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line.
Norman Super Regional Schedule + Broadcast Info
Game 1: Friday, May 26th, 2 p.m. ET
Game 2: Saturday, May 27th, 1 p.m. ET
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, May 28th, TBD
Friday’s series-opening contest will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Each game of the series will be live on the air right here on theroarfm.com, 97.5/105.5 in the Upstate, or on The ROAR mobile app.
Outlook on Clemson
After starting the regular season 37-1, Clemson stumbled through a 9-8 finish over the remaining weeks of the regular season and followed that up by being no-hit by Duke in a 2-0 semifinal loss in the ACC Championship.
They responded by scoring 24 runs on 24 hits over the next two games in wins over UNC Greensboro and Auburn, propelling them to a quick 2-0 advantage in the Clemson Regional. The bats wound up staying hot as they clinched their Super Regional berth with a second win over Auburn.
With the momentum of a Regional title and hopes of securing the program’s first-ever Women’s College World Series berth, the Tigers enter into daunting territory against the reigning back-to-back National Champions.
Oklahoma’s Dominance by the Numbers
The Sooners come into Super Regional play on a 46-game win streak, one shy of the all-time NCAA record set by Arizona in 1996-97. They haven’t lost a home game since February 29th, 2020 against North Texas, and 27 of their 54 wins this season have been via the run rule. 32 of them have been shutouts.
Dominance has come on both sides of the ball: they rank first in team batting average (.376) and home runs per game (1.89) offensively while also leading the nation in team ERA (0.88) from the circle. On the season, they are outscoring opponents 461-47, and they hold a 22-1 record against top-25 teams.
In their Regional round of play last week, the Sooners outscored Hofstra, Missouri, and California by a combined score of 38-3, all in run-rule victories. A Super Regional win over the Tigers would send the Sooners to their seventh straight Women’s College World Series.
Clemson’s two-way superstar Valerie Cagle is the only remaining National Player of the Year candidate in the tournament. On the season, she’s batting .467 (5th best in NCAA) with 79 hits (T-7th best in NCAA), 14 doubles, 57 RBIs, 19 homers (T-7th best in NCAA), and she leads the Tigers with a 1.467 OPS. On the mound, Cagle holds a 25-6 W/L record, 1.20 ERA (11th best in NCAA), and 186 K’s over 186.0 innings of work.
McKenzie Clark (.339 AVG, 58 hits, 12 HR, 36 RBI), Caroline Jacobsen (.310 AVG, 53 hits, 12 HR, 48 RBI), and the recently-returned Aby Viera (.306 AVG, 30 hits, 19 RBI) round out Clemson’s best offensively. Millie Thompson has been the Tigers’ main go-to in the circle when Cagle needs a rest, and she’s turned in a 14-3 W/L record with a 1.80 ERA. Sophomore Brooke McCubbin has seen 69.0 innings of work and sits sixth in the country with a 1.20 ERA.
Leading the charge offensively for the Sooners’ No. 1 scoring offense in college softball is Tiare Jennings, who hits a team-high .439 with 69 hits, 58 RBI, and 14 homers. Jayda Coleman (.422), Kinzie Hansen (.414), Alyssa Brito (.411), and Haley Lee (.401) also sit above the .400 mark. Coleman and Brito lead the team with 15 homers each, and Jennings is right behind with 14.
In the circle, the Sooners boast of three of the top 8 lowest individual ERAs in college softball: Nicole May's 0.57 ERA (2nd lowest), Alex Storako's 0.93 ERA (4th lowest), Jordyn Bahl's 1.10 ERA (8th lowest).
Rittman “Proud” of Program in Year 4
Prior to hitting the road for Norman on Wednesday, Clemson head coach John Rittman expressed how proud he was of the strides his program has taken these last few seasons: “I’m just really proud of our players, staff, and everybody involved with our program- to make it to our second Super Regional in a short four-year period of our program says a lot about our overall culture, our team, and everybody that works with our program.”
“We’re looking forward to the challenge of facing the number one team in the country in Oklahoma,” he said. “We’re going to go up there and give it our best shot, I know that.”