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Clemson’s Alia Logoleo was batting a mere .232 heading into Sunday’s game. She had recorded four hits in her last four games, which included her 18th RBI of the season in Saturday’s doubleheader, her first since April 17th.
Syracuse’s starting pitcher, Kaia Oliver, had already allowed one run, a double and two walks in the top of the first inning, with just one out to her name. Logoleo stepped into a pitch right down the middle for a three-run home run crushed over the left field fence.
It was Oliver’s final pitch of the game, bringing Syracuse to a 4-0 deficit. In that at-bat, the Orange were given just a brief glimpse of the power in Logoleo’s bat.
“That one kid all alone just killed us,” head coach Shannon Doepking said.
Logoleo went 4-for-4 in Clemson’s (40-5, 29-5 Atlantic Coast) 19-2 run-rule drubbing of Syracuse (20-23, 12-20), with three home runs and 10 RBI’s. Syracuse cycled through four different pitchers in its five-inning loss and allowed its third-highest run total in program history.
Logoleo’s next at-bat came just an inning later, and Clemson had already scored two more runs to make the score 6-0. With Lindsey Hendrix on the mound hanging onto just one out with the bases loaded, Logoleo demolished the first pitch of the at-bat well over the right-center field fence for a grand slam that gave Clemson a 10-0 lead.
“We’re just not good enough offensively to keep up when you give up 10 runs,” Doepking said.
After the second inning — which saw 11 Clemson batters step up to the plate — Clemson entered the third with an 11-0 lead. Miranda Hearn had entered the game as the Orange’s third pitcher to face the Tigers, and Hearn would be the third pitcher to attempt to retire Logoleo.
But Logoleo once again smacked a home run into dead center field that would’ve sailed beyond the 215-feet fence if it weren’t for the supportive netting behind it. Logoleo’s two-run home run was her ninth RBI of the game and her third trip around the bases after coming into the series with just four home runs on the season.
With the series finale being the one game Alexa Romero did not pitch, Doepking left it up to the Syracuse bullpen to rise to the occasion and get the outs needed to halt the growing deficit.
“Unfortunately when you get these moments, you’ve got to be able to do something with it,” Doepking said. “I’m fortunate that we have pitchers who want the ball, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to execute.”
Ahead of Logoleo’s fourth at-bat of the game in the fifth inning, Doepking and Syracuse catcher Geana Torres — who was calling the pitches in Sunday’s loss — almost decided to intentionally walk Logoleo, which would have given Clemson runners first and second base. Instead, they opted to let the game’s fourth pitcher Jolie Gustave take on the redshirt freshman and end her spell of big hits.
But Logoleo’s strong bat prevailed again as she fired an RBI double through the left-center gap, one-hopping into the wall to score Clemson’s 14th run of the game.
After defeating Clemson in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader and maintaining a close scoreline in the games prior, Doepking is confident the team will know how to face the Tigers if they advance to the second round of the ACC Tournament. The eighth-seeded Syracuse will face ninth-seeded Georgia Tech, and the winner of that game will play Clemson, who solidified its first ACC regular-season title with Sunday’s win.
Doepking believes Romero will be the answer to the team’s offensive woes moving forward after witnessing the Orange’s shaky performance from its four pitchers.
“We probably don’t get our a** kicked like we did today with Lex on the mound,” Doepking said. “She gives us a chance.”
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