Clemson silences Syracuse, handing Orange a 19-2 loss in regular-season finale

Clemson silences Syracuse, handing Orange a 19-2 loss

Against the No. 11 team in the county, only two runners scored for Syracuse softball, which ended its season with a 20-23 record.
Published: May 9, 2021
Neli Casares-Maher steps up to bat during a game between the Clemson Tigers and the Syracuse Orange on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Skytop Softball Stadium.

After starting the season with two cancellations, the Syracuse softball team capped an unlikely, nearly complete season with a Sunday matinee game against No. 11 Clemson on Sunday. The Orange came into the Mother’s Day matchup following a 7-6 walkoff win in their second of two games against the Tigers on Saturday, but couldn’t continue the success, losing the regular season finale, 19-2.

With the win, Clemson captured the regular-season ACC title for the first time in program history, as the Tigers only added a softball team prior to last year’s shortened season.

Syracuse’s Kaia Oliver started in the circle against Clemson and faced off against McKenzie Clark to open the game. Clark got to second base on the first hit of the afternoon, sending a drive between third base and left field. Oliver walked the next two batters, and the Tigers had based loaded to start the game.

Clark scored the first run to put Clemson up 1-0 when Geana Torres fumbled the ball over home plate. Alia Logoleo stepped up to bat and homered to left field, batting in three runs to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead with only one out.

Freshman pitcher Lindsey Hendrix replaced Oliver and she immediately threw the next batter out at first and finished off the Clemson surge with a strikeout.

Tigers’ pitcher Millie Thompson struck out Paris Woods in nearly as many pitches to keep Clemson’s spirits strong. Thompson made quick work of Lailoni Mayfield, but Neli Casares-Maher hit a single to left field to get Syracuse on base. Clemson caught a popup from Gabby Teran and put the ball back in Syracuse gloves.

After opening the second inning with a walk, Clemson’s catcher opted to bunt. Torres and Calista Almer collided close to home base trying to catch what should’ve been an out, but the miscommunication resulted in Clemson putting runners on first and second base with no outs. Clark hit a similar drive to her first at-bat, sending a bouncing ball between third, left field and the short stop to given Clemson another bases loaded opportunity.

Ansley Gilstrap popped a hit over the head of second baseman Teran and center fielder Toni Martin to get another run for Clemson, giving the Tigers a convincing 5-0 in the top of the second. Hendrix struck out the next batter, but Clemson still had bases loaded with just one out. She walked the next batter, and the Tigers took a 6-0 lead.

The Tigers weren’t done with the scoring success in the second. Logoleo hit her second home run in as many innings to send all four runners home and give the visitors a 10-0 lead with just one out. After Clemson scored its eleventh run, Syracuse replaced Hendrix with Miranda Hearn in the circle. She gloved a popup for the third out of the inning and Syracuse moved back up to bat.

Angel Jasso offered some hope to the struggling Syracuse squad, hitting a grounder to get on first base at her first at-bat. Martin struck out next, and Torres’ hit was picked up for a double out to close the second inning.

Things were looking up as the Orange caught a hit in right field for the first out and Hearn struck out another batter. But Logoleo stepped up to the plate and hit her third homer of the afternoon, sending her and Valerie Cagle home and extending Clemson’s lead to 13-0. Syracuse stopped the bleeding, throwing out Clemson’s Cammy Pereira at first.

In the bottom of the third, Thompson did what she’d done all game, sending all three Syracuse batters back to the dugout without a single player touching first base.

Clemson started to cycle through its roster and Hearn finished off the newcomers quickly. A walk, a strikeout and two caught pinch hits kept Clemson from scoring for the first inning all game, but the Tigers still held a 13-0 lead. Mayfield hit a single to start the bottom of the fourth, and, after a strikeout, Teran hit a single that sailed just past Thompson and gave Syracuse a runner on second – and two runners on base – for the first time all game.

Jasso struck out next, but Martin completed a successful bunt and gave Syracuse its first bases loaded opportunity. Torres made up for her earlier blunder, sending a hit to the outfield that helped two Syracuse runners to home plate. The Orange narrowed the gap to 13-2, but Thompson took care of the last batter to send the game into the crucial fifth inning.

Hearn held off another Logoleo home run, but her hit was still strong enough to send a runner home and put Logoleo on second. After Hearn hit a Clemson batter with a pitch, Jolie Gustave stepped in the circle for Syracuse. Kyah Keller hit a line drive and all Syracuse could do was sit and watch as more Clemson runners circled the bases and headed home.

Clemson finished off the fifth with a 19-2 lead. Freshman pitcher Regan Spencer stepped into the circle for Clemson after Thompson pitched the Tigers to a 17-point lead. Clemson gloved the first two hits that soared into left field and walked Mayfield. Casares-Maher’s pop fly was easily picked up outside of first plate, and without a single run in the deciding inning, Syracuse dropped the game 19-2.

Syracuse softball finished the season with a 20-23 record. The Orange will wait to hear where they land in tournament standings, which starts at the end of this week.