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April 7, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind sophomore Nickie Blue’s first solo one-hitter, South Carolina (27-15) picked up a 3-0 shutout of USC Upstate (29-7) on Tuesday night at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

Blue (13-6) struck out three in the blanking, her fourth of the year. She allowed Aly Schneider to reach base twice, with her one-out hit in the first and a walk to start the seventh. In between those two at-bats, Blue retired 17 Spartans in a row with five 1-2-3 innings. She needed only 76 pitches in the complete-game win.

The Gamecocks posted the winning run in the fourth on sophomore first baseman Kaylea Snaer’s single, scoring junior right fielder Ansley Ard from third after she led off the frame with a bunt single and advanced to third on a USC Upstate throwing error.

South Carolina added two insurance runs in the sixth, the first on senior centerfielder Kristen Struett’s two-out single, scoring freshman pinch runner Kamryn Watts from second. Junior left fielder Alaynie Page, who reached on an intentional walk, scored on a wild pitch after Struett’s hit helped her reach third.

USC Upstate pitcher Lexi Shubert (21-5) took the loss, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and four walks.

Game Changer:
Ard’s bunt single and race to third on the error set the Gamecocks up for a run in the fourth, and Snaer’s single put SC up for good.

Key Stats:
Blue only allowed four balls out of the infield, three fly outs to each outfielder and the Schneider first-inning single. The Gamecocks played errorless defense behind her.

• Page got a hit and drew the one intentional walk to continue her reached-base streak to 17 games.
• Struett went 2-for-4 with her sixth-inning RBI single.
• Junior third baseman Jordan Bizzell drew two of South Carolina’s four walks, with the other two coming intentionally to Page and senior catcher Sarah Mooney.
• Blue’s one-hitter is her first one alone in her career, but she threw six innings in the combined one-hit win over Appalachian State earlier this season.
• South Carolina is now 10-0 when it holds its opposition without an extra-base hits.
• The paid attendance of 1,480 ties the stadium record with the 2014 SEC Championship Game.

South Carolina Head Coach Beverly Smith

“What an exciting game (Nickie) threw. She was exceptional tonight hitting her spots against a really aggressive USC Upstate team. They have some experienced, high-quality hitters. Nickie really shut them down. I am proud of her.”

“USC Upstate’s pitcher was tricky with her spin and change of speeds. (Snaer and Struett) did a nice job putting those runs on the board for us.”

Up Next:
South Carolina hosts Arkansas in a three-game weekend series. Friday’s first pitch is set for 6 p.m. EDT, with Saturday’s start moved back to 5 p.m. to accommodate the SEC Network + broadcast. Sunday is set for a 1 p.m. beginning, with all three games on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN.