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No. 7 Cowgirls break through against Millie Thompson to take game one

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Millie Thompson fired 14 1/3 scoreless innings to start her NCAA Tournament. (Clemson athletics photo)

No. 10 national seed Clemson softball entered Thursday’s action at the Stillwater Super Regional two wins away from a Women’s College World Series appearance.

After the host and 7th-seeded Oklahoma State Cowgirls broke through late on Clemson standout left-hander Millie Thompsonthe Tigers remained that way while Oklahoma State inched closer to consecutive WCWS appearances when the Cowgirls came out on top, 2-0, late Thursday.

Thompson (15-4) evaded trouble in the early innings.

The Cowgirls (45-12) left at least one runner on base for the first three frames with four total, as Thompson stretched a 2022 NCAA Tournament scoreless innings streak to 13 innings.

On the other side, Oklahoma State’s Kelly Maxwell (19-4) kept Clemson hitless through the first three innings until Valerie Cagle got the Tigers (42-16) on the board with a single to lead off the fourth frame. Like the three innings before, however, Maxwell kept Clemson scoreless and reached seven strikeouts through four innings.



“You come to postseason and the best pitchers keep you off-balance and I think that’s what she did tonight,” Clemson’s Marissa Guimbarda said. “The best hitters also try to make adjustments and I got up in the box and I got back-up in the box and tried to get under it and she went rise (pitch) on me. She definitely had us off-balance for the most part of the day. We’ll get her later this weekend. “

Thompson built on her momentum with a first 1-2-3 frame in just five pitches in the bottom of the fourth.

While only having three baserunners through five innings, Clemson did make Maxwell work up to 76 pitches, while totaling nine strikeouts.

Thompson’s run of 14 1/3 innings scoreless in NCAAs play came to a close in the fifth inning after giving up a leadoff double, not getting the strike three call she wanted two batters later for a walk (a runner that then stole second base) and Oklahoma State’s Chyenne Factor then knocking through a two-run single up the middle. The Cowgirls loaded the bases with two out after that, but Thompson induced the ground ball to strand all three.

Maxwell finished out an ace performance from there, notching an 11th shutout this season by tallying 13 strikeouts and allowing just two hits.



“Tough loss for us tonight obviously … A lot of credit to Maxwell,” Clemson coach John Rittman said, “and Oklahoma State’s hitters. They got the timely hit when they needed them. I thought Millie pitched extremely well tonight. And just had a rough inning there that we couldn’t get out of it.But she limited the damage and gave ourselves a chance.

“This team never quits. In the seventh inning there, we still had the tying run at the plate, and that says a lot about our team and our fight. But a lot of credit goes to Maxwell. She was awfully tough tonight. It’s the first time we’ve seen her live and a lot of tight spin down and got us to chase up a little bit.But we still hit the ball hard four or five times and gave ourselves an opportunity there early … Good pitchers make you miss. ”

Thompson went the full six innings allotted, scattering seven hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Oklahoma State improved to 21-1 at Cowgirl Stadium this season.

Clemson will look to force a decisive game three in Friday’s 9 pm ET start (ESPN2).

“The biggest thing I told our players after tonight is it’s not over,” Rittman said. “We still have a lot to fight for. There’s a three-game series for a reason so we got to come out tomorrow night to play.”

Rittman indicated that Clemson will start Cagle (16-8) as expected on Friday.

“We’ve got a pretty good one going tomorrow,” Rittman said, looking to Cagle in Clemson’s postgame press conference. “We’re set up. We have a 1A and 1B really this whole second half of the season. Millie has worked extremely hard and we know she keeps hitters off-balance. Both of these pitchers complement each other really well. So they give a team a different look. Looking forward to tomorrow. “


Print

Updated NCAA Tournament projection for Clemson
Updated NCAA Tournament projection for Clemson
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Monte Lee expects to be back with Tigers next season
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Game times for early Clemson football games announced
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NCAA projections split on Clemson going into the ACC final



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