The Walk-Off is Softball America’s daily recap of the biggest games of each day. We’ll focus on the biggest moments with real-time analysis throughout the day as games start and finish. Every game mentioned in the Walk-Off will be watched with our own eyes through the various streams and television platforms.
No. 5 Clemson does it all to take down No. 16 Oregon
There are not many, if any, players that people would pick to lead their program from the start rather than Valerie Cagle. Her greatness isn’t enough on its own to carry Clemson to Oklahoma City for the first time. In the Tigers’ biggest test of the year, they had the answer to every question.
The reigning Player of the Year was great, throwing five innings of relief and surrendering only two hits to help get the 3-2 win. She didn’t have a massive impact at the plate but that’s okay because her teammates did enough on their own.
McKenzie Clark has always been an important cog in the offense, she responded right back after Oregon scored in the top of the first. She doubled, stole third and scored on an Alex Brown sac-fly.
Clark has been there before, it’s a lot about who else can step up. It’ll be freshman Julia Knowler. The freshman who has already made a name for herself this weekend followed Cagle’s fourth-inning single with a double. Though there’s a case that Oregon’s outfield had a chance to make a play but a clear miscommunication happened between Kai Luschar and Hanna Delgado. Nevertheless, Clemson took advantage of it. Alia Logoleo put down a perfect squeeze play and Cagle beat the throw up. Maddie Moore singled into the center for the go-ahead RBI.
We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again:
Easy Peasy, Logoleo Squeezy 🍋 pic.twitter.com/oywYoICe12
— Clemson Softball 🥎 (@clemsonsoftball) February 11, 2024
Clemson showed a lot of grittiness to win this game. That goes a long way. Style points don’t mean a whole lot. Run-rule wins are fun and all but it only means so much to the metrics and the postseason. To get to the Women’s College World Series, just find a way to win and that’s what the Tigers did. They’ll have to keep doing it to build the resume to earn a Top Eight seed, the easiest road to Oklahoma City.
Outside of the play in the outfield, Oregon didn’t play poorly. Both teams played very good defense and the Ducks used their speed to manufacture runs. They had a great plan to attack Clemson starter and known early strike-thrower Millie Thompson, thus forcing her out after two innings. Morgan Scott, one of the more underrated arms in the nation, controlled the zone and worked her full array of pitches.
Overall it a a great contest to be featured in the nightcap of the MLB Network tripleheader as the game of softball continues to grow.
No. 3 Florida State tops Texas Tech in a thriller in Tallahassee
There was plenty of buzz about Isa Torres leading into the season. And rightfully so, you have to be pretty good to be Florida State’s starting shortstop as a freshman. She had her first big-time moment of her career.
With the Noles down to their last out, down a run, the nine-hole hitter stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Torres shot the 0-1 pitch back up the middle past a diving Abbie Orrick to drive in a pair of runs and clinch the 9-8 walk-off win.
ISA TORRES STAND UP YOUNG FRESHMAN‼️‼️‼️‼️
NOLES WALK IT OFF🍢🍢🍢🍢🍢🍢🍢🍢🍢🍢
— Florida State Softball 🥎 (@FSU_Softball) February 10, 2024
This felt like the typical Florida State win, where the Noles did anything to win. The teams traded blows for much of the game. Texas Tech, which has deep Florida State roots in its coaching staff, quickly knocked off Florida State starter Ashtyn Danley with a pair of runs in the first.
Emma Wilson – who has been the best pitcher on the staff this weekend – cooled the Red Raider bats for three innings outside a solo home run from Riley Love. That opened the doors for the lineup to get going. The do-it-all Jahni Kerr ended the day with four RBIs, highlighted by a three-run blast that gave Florida State its first lead of the game fourth inning. Amaya Ross also deserves her flowers with her home run and a triple that helped tie the game later on.
Remember what we said about Texas Tech being rooted in Tallahassee? Craig Snider’s team didn’t give in when it lost the lead. Instead, the Red Raiders responded with a five-run fifth inning. How did they get there? There was a sacrifice fly, a bouncer that turned into an error, a full-count single and Love’s second blast of the day as the exclamation point. That formula looks oddly familiar.
Unlike earlier in the week against Charlotte, Florida State eventually found a way as the Seminoles typically do. We’ll likely be hearing even more about Torres and fellow freshman Jaysoni Beachum, who has a 1.321 OPS after four games, in the future as well.
Softball around America
- Virginia Tech and Auburn was shaping up to be a headliner. We got Emma Lemley and Maddie Penta in the circle. We had game-swinging home runs. The rain had other ideas. Bre Peck’s grand slam in the top of the seventh to take the lead will be nothing but a memory for those who saw it. The weather didn’t improve and the game reverted back to the sixth inning, ending in a 5-5 tie.
- A home run that did count was a two-run blast from Rachel Castine. After she hit two grand slams on Friday, it’s clear she is settling as a full-time starter.
- Stephanie Schoonover and NiJaree Canady probably would’ve pitched all day if we let them. In a game where the teams nearly combined for as many errors as hits, Kentucky cut down the Cardinal for a second straight with a 3-2 extra-inning win. Stanford scored both its runs on errors, while Kentucky found a pair in the bottom of the eight on a Rylea Smith and a fielder’s choice to end the game. But look at these pitching lines:
- Schoonover: 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 7 K
- Canady: 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 14 K
- Stanford did bounce back in the following game. Regan Krause reminded us she’s a pretty good hurler too. She shut out a good Minnesota offense, limiting the Gophers to four this in a 3-0 win.
- Speaking about Big Ten and good speaking. Lauren Derkowski says hello. The Michigan ace went 10 innings to beat a potent Florida lineup. Kendra Falby, Skylar Wallace and Jocelyn Erickson combined to go 2-for-13 in the 2-1 loss. Florida’s Keagan Rothrock was pretty good too. The freshman only allowed one hit, which came back in the first inning, and proceeded to throw nine no-hit innings but came out with the loss.
- Then there was the drama in Atlanta. After blanking Georgia Tech the whole game, Kayla Beaver ran into trouble in the seventh as the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases without any outs. Grace Connelly lifted a ball to right field that had trouble all over it. Alabama’s Larissa Preuitt leaped and snagged the ball toward the top of the wall. She threw it back in and we thought the Tide turned one of the weirdest triple plays. In reality, there was a lengthy review, it was only a double play and despite the broadcast ending, Beaver struck out the final batter to get the 5-1 win.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) February 10, 2024
- Many were upset that the UCLA and Texas rematch was not available to be seen outside of Easton Stadium. Bruin fans are probably okay with that now. The Longhorns beat the Bruins 16-0. Mia Scott and Viviana Martinez each hit a grand slam, Martinez also hit a solo home run. Even UCLA’s two wins haven’t been pretty this season. The Bruins needed a comeback to beat Maryland in their season opener and held off San Diego’s seventh-inning rally earlier in the day to win 7-6.
- LSU finished the weekend with its fifth shutout from its fifth different pitcher. Raelin Chaffin threw a complete game three-hitter against Pitt. While Emilee Casanova blanked Memphis in five innings.
What a weekend for the pitching staff:
— LSU Softball (@LSUsoftball) February 11, 2024