No. 3 Duke softball dips into its offensive and defensive arsenal to sweep Clemson on the road

Cassidy Curd pitches in Duke's win against Charlotte.
Cassidy Curd pitches in Duke's win against Charlotte.

In their first matchup since throwing a no-hitter against them in last year’s ACC tournament, Cassidy Curd and the Blue Devils dominated the Tigers once again. 

Curd was spectacular in then-No. 1 Duke’s 6-1 win against then-No. 25 Clemson Sunday evening to finish off a series sweep, going four scoreless innings and only allowing three hits. The Blue Devils continue to show their capacity to win games all sorts of ways, emerging victorious in a slugfest Friday night and closing out Sunday’s pitcher’s duel.

After being tight all the way through, the final game broke open in the ninth, as Duke (37-4, 16-2 in the ACC) slugged its way to four runs in the frame. A Jada Baker single that snuck just past the mound was followed by an error and a wild pitch, giving the Blue Devils two runners in scoring position with no outs: They went to work from there. Kelly Torres bunted and Claire Davidson followed it up with a double to add the first three tallies, and an Ana Gold single was the death knell for the Tigers (28-14, 11-7) as it extended the lead to 6-1. 

This one was largely devoid of offense through the first half, with neither team having more than one runner on base at any moment. That changed in the top of the fifth, as Duke finally broke through for two off Clemson starter Regan Spencer. After Gisele Tapia worked a four-pitch walk to begin the inning, two consecutive outs looked to doom another chance for the Blue Devils. However, the dynamic offense that  propelled the squad to the top spot in the rankings finally showed up once pinch hitter Amiah Burgess stepped to the plate.

The freshman replaced D’Auna Jennings in the nine-hole and instantly sparked some excitement, pushing a single through that gave Duke runners on first and third and allowed for back-to-back singles from Torres and Davidson that put the away team up 2-0. 

Davidson continued her impressive weekend in the first inning when she roped a one-out double to right field to give Duke an early runner in scoring position, but the Blue Devils were unable to capitalize on the knock, as Davidson advanced to third on a groundout but a Gold popup to the pitcher ended the threat.

Despite Curd surrendering a baserunner in the second, third and fourth innings, none advanced past first, with the sophomore once again showing her elite stuff as she racked up six strikeouts through the first four frames and kept the game scoreless. 

The Port St. Lucie, Fla., native gave way to Jala Wright in the fifth, and the senior was lights-out in her first frame, sitting all three batters down in quick order. However, the Charlotte native was not as fortunate in the bottom of the sixth. After giving up a leadoff single and a groundout that advanced the runner to second, a single from McKenzie Clark cut the lead in half before Wright escaped the inning. 

Duke was looking to bounce back after an unexpected loss to Campbell Wednesday, and the offense did just the trick, slugging its way to a 13-9 win Friday night behind 13 hits. Aminah Vega and Torres were the main engines of the attack in the series opener, as both finished 3-for-4 on the night and drove in a combined eight runs for the visitors. Lillie Walker also had a great outing on the mound, going a career-long 6.2 innings and striking out three. 

Saturday was much more tame offensively but did not lack in excitement, as the Blue Devils eked out a 4-3 victory behind a solid performance from Jala Wright, who went five innings and gave up all three runs before Walker came in for the two-inning save. The majority of Duke’s offensive production came off the bat of Davidson, who slugged a three-run shot in the third inning that put her over 100 career RBIs. 

Up next, Duke will face UNC Greensboro on the road Wednesday before hosting Virginia for a series. 


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