We all knew Emma Whitfield was special and that she’d be playing at the Division-I level, but it wasn’t until last week that we knew where that would be. The Stephens County junior softball star has wrapped up her recruitment with a verbal commitment to Clemson University.
Whitfield dazzled as a freshman, putting up some impressive stats in her first varsity season: 6-5, 2.68 ERA, 98 K. In that season, she pitched 75.2 innings and walked only 12, while also hitting .440 at the plate.
Her 2016 sophomore season was leaps and bounds better: 24-5, 0.92 ERA, 232 K, 22 BB. Whitfield hit. 241 that season with a pair of homers and 17 RBI, leading the Lady Indians to the Class 4A Quarterfinals (Elite 8) in Columbus, marking the first time in school history.
She followed that up with yet another incredible year in her junior 2017 season: 24-9, 0.96 ERA, 285 K, 211 IP; .333 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 5 2B, 9 R. Unreal!
So what led Whitfield to close the recruiting game down early with still another season to go?
“Clemson checked all the boxes for me,” states Whitfield. “It sold itself with the beautiful campus, only being about 40 miles away from home, and the family atmosphere. Also, I loved the rich tradition of all their athletics.
While she still has a travel season ahead of her, along with her senior 2018 season in the not-too-distant future, there comes obvious benefits to going ahead and making a commitment now.
“It is a huge relief,” exclaims Whitfield. “While there is stress lifted off of me from the recruiting process, I can now focus more on performing and working my hardest during my senior year.”
Clemson will be getting an obviously very talented pitcher, but also a humble and selfless teammate. One can wonder how the Lady Tigers will use Whitfield in their program, which, believe it or not, is opening its inaugural season of softball in the 2019-20 school year.
“They expect me to impact the program right away with it being the very first year of Clemson softball,” says Whitfield on the forecast of getting to play right away.
And while they are extremely excited and fortunate to have Whitfield, there is always room to grow and improve her game (if that’s possible).
“They really like the way my ball moves, but I plan to continue working on explosiveness off the mound and velocity,” says Whitfield.
That’s a dangerous sentence to hear if you’re a Stephens County opponent in fall 2018…