OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – History made.
Valerie Cagle was named the 2023 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year on Tuesday evening at the team banquet prior to the beginning of the Women’s College World Series, becoming the first Clemson softball player to win the honor.
She becomes just the fourth ACC player to earn the award and gives the league its first selection since 2014 (Lacey Waldrop – Florida State). She is also the 15th Tiger to earn a National Player of the Year honor, and the second woman from Clemson joining Brianna Rollins from track and field (The Bowerman – 2013).
Cagle had a historic season for the Tigers setting a school-record with 83 hits, including 19 home runs and 15 doubles. The redshirt junior ranks in the top 20 in nine categories following Super Regionals, including leading the nation in total bases (157), and ranking in the top 10 in batting average (4 – .469), hits (5 – 83), on-base percentage (6 – .565), home runs (7 – 19), slugging percentage (8 – .887) and victories (9 – 25).
The reigning ACC Player of the Year dominated all season at the plate. Not only did she hit for power, but Cagle also drew a program-record 36 walks. She led the ACC in RBIs (57), batting average, hits, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases. She clocked a season-high four hits against Ohio State (Feb. 19) and went 3-for-4 in the opening game of the Norman Super Regional against Oklahoma (May 26). Earlier this season, she hit a home run in five consecutive games from Georgia Tech (March 24) to Boston College (March 31).
In the circle, the Yorktown, Virginia native finished with a 1.56 ERA through 38 appearances and 30 starts. Through 193 innings of work, she struck out 188 batters while only allowing 23 extra-base hits and limiting opponents to a .182 average. She posted eight solo shutouts and three combined to finish with 25 total victories and three saves. Cagle pitched the first perfect game in program history with a five-inning performance against Mercer (March 8) and an immaculate inning against Georgia Tech (March 24) needing only nine pitches to strike out three batters.
The award adds to an already long list of honors for the pitcher/utility combo. She was named an All-ACC First Team selection, an NFCA All-Region honoree, a three-time ACC Player of the Week, a three-time ACC Pitcher of the Week, a Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the Week selection and a D1Softball First Team All-American.