The Clemson Tigers will play their home opener on Wednesday afternoon against Western Carolina, in a game that is set to kick off at 2:30 pm at Clemson Softball Stadium. The Tigers are five games into their inaugural season of competition, and the game against the Catamounts is sold out of tickets, the school announced on Tuesday.
Here are six things to keep an eye on in the Tigers’ home opener and first-ever home game:
1. The fanbase
That the game is sold out without even having to sell tickets at the gate speaks volumes to the kind of crowds and fans that the Tigers will play for from day one of the program’s on-field existence. The inaugural fan day took place in front of a stadium packed with people earlier in the spring, and the crowd on Wednesday should be electric. Clemson’s general fan base is large and well-regarded as one of the nation’s best, and, encouragingly, that status appears to already be extending to the softball program.
2. Marissa Guimbarda at the plate
Guimbarda hit just .200 on opening weekend for the Tigers, tying for the team lead in home runs and RBIs with a single longball and six runs driven in. One of the solid hitters in the Tigers’ lineup, Guimbarda also has the most experience of anyone on the roster against the Catamounts, after playing two years in the same conference during her years at Furman.
3. The Tigers in the field
During their opening-weekend tournament in Orlando, the Tigers made ten field errors. While not a huge number for a team seeing the field for the first time as a unit, the miscues inside the white lines decidedly left something to be desired from the program and needs to be an area that is shored up as the season continues. The game against WCU is a good opportunity for the Tigers to make some adjustments and adaptations before hosting the ACC/Big 10 Challenge this weekend.
4. Logan Caymol
The Tigers’ first-ever recruit allowed eleven earned runs on opening weekend, but also recorded one of the program’s pair of inaugural victories. She struck out thirteen batters in just over ten innings of work, and allowed two extra base hits. Whether or not she gets the start in the circle, don’t be surprised to see Caymol at some point on Wednesday, as she is sure to be a valuable part of the Tigers’ efforts this season, and experience is an irreplaceable thing for the redshirt freshman.
5. The ACC Network broadcast crew
Softball on the ACC Network is still a new thing, with the conference’s television offering still in its first year of existence. Clemson Softball Stadium will debut on the small screen on Wednesday, with what could be the ACC Network’s “A-team” of broadcasters on the call. Play-by-play broadcaster Matt Schick – a veteran of multiple sports, including the softball edition of Bases Loaded, and who you also might recognize from the SEC Network’s ‘we now move ahead in the action’ clips that are inserted into recorded sporting events – will be joined by NFCA Executive Director and color commentator Carol Bruggeman in the booth. ACC fans could be seeing more of this pair throughout the season.
6. John Rittman back in the coaches box
It’s been a while since Rittman stepped into the coaches box on a nationally-seen stage, but he’ll do just that in his new program’s televised home opener. One of the more underrated coaches in the game, Rittman previously led Stanford to incredible heights of success, and now is tasked with guiding the Tigers through the program’s infancy. There were positive and negative takeaways in the season’s opening weekend, and Clemson fans will turn out in droves to be some good softball from the players in the Clemson orange, so fixing some of the manageable errors will be paramount. If Rittman is interviewed at some point during the event, too, expect some pretty great insight into the game in general.