Clemson softball: Tigers, Pereira prep for Super Regional

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Clemson second baseman Cammy Pereira (12) scores against Louisiana during the Clemson Regional Sunday at Clemson’s McWhorter Stadium.

Special to The State

When she transferred to Clemson from Furman following the 2019 softball season, Cammy Pereira never imagined she would still be playing in 2022.

The way she planned it, she’d be wrapping up her first year of medical school – not two wins away from helping the Tigers to their first appearance in the Women’s College World Series. But here she is, still playing the sport she loves as Clemson opens the NCAA tournament Super Regional round Thursday against No. 7 Oklahoma State.

If Pereira and the 10th-seeded Tigers do find a way to knock off the Cowboys, they will advance to next week’s WCWS in Oklahoma City. Either way, the graduate senior’s college career will end in Oklahoma.

“I really can not think about the end being the end, you know? I just have to be really appreciative of where I am going and where it will end, ”the second baseman said Tuesday before Clemson loaded the buses for the Stillwater Super Regional. “A lot of people’s season has to end with their conference tournament or even before then if they do not make the conference tournament, and mine is going to end in Oklahoma, period. No matter which part of Oklahoma we are in.

“That is just way farther than I ever expected we would go and where I would be able to take my softball career. So, either way, whenever (it) ends, I will just know I did the most of what I could with all six years that I had. ”

Pereira took advantage of the extra year the NCAA awarded spring athletes who missed half of the 2020 season due to the pandemic. Her career was supposed to end after the 2021 campaign. But with all the returning players the Tigers had coming back, plus the momentum the third-year program had from its first NCAA regional appearance in Alabama, Pereira decided to give it one more shot.

In the process, she put off medical school for another year.

“I knew we were going to be able to take it a step further than what we did last year,” she said. Like coach (John) Rittman said, he did not know how much further that was going to be, whether that was going to be one more win in the regional or winning the regional, winning super. But I knew that this year’s team was going to have the capability to go one step further and I really just wanted to be a part of that.

“I knew I would regret it if I made the decision to miss out on that.”

When Rittman was hired to start the Clemson program back in 2017, he knew he needed veteran players like MK Bonamy, Ansley Gilstrap, Marissa Guimbarda and Pereira to be leaders and set examples on how to be a student-athlete on and off the field. They were the foundation the program was going to stand on for years to come.

With Pereira at second base the last three years, she’s given Rittman a consistent voice of reason and leadership in the clubhouse that only comes with experience.

“There are no shortcuts with Cammy,” he said. “She works her tail off. She is very task-oriented. She is an outstanding leader. With a young team, sometimes she has to tell people what they do not want to hear. She has to be the mother figure and be a little hard on them at times and she has done that.

“Certainly, for her to come back for a sixth year, and to put off medical school, I am extremely happy for her to be able to go out with this nice run we are having right now.”

And when Clemson’s run is finally complete, Pereira will not ride off into the sunset. Instead, she will put her stethoscope around her neck and head to medical school in Spartanburg, where she will begin classes on July 18.

“That is way in the future right now compared to what we have going on,” she said, smiling. “So, I’m going to continue to still live in my college athlete days.”

Clemson in NCAA softball tournament

vs. Oklahoma State in Stillwater Super Regional (Best two out of three)

Game 1: Thursday, 9:30 pm, ESPN2

Game 2: Friday, 9 pm, ESPN2

Game 3: Saturday, TBD (if necessary)

This story was originally published May 25, 2022 2:57 PM.

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