March 1, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – In the first no-hitter in six years, South Carolina (14-2) blanked Western Carolina (11-5) 1-0 on Wednesday evening at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
Junior pitchers Nickie Blue (4-2) and Jessica Elliott combined on the no-hit effort, with Blue tossing the first five innings, striking out six, and Elliott taking the final two, fanning two. Both allowed a base runner but nothing more, giving South Carolina its first no-hitter since Feb. 12, 2011 when Julie Sarratt kept Coastal Carolina off the board.
The Gamecocks got their lone run in the fourth with a timely hit. After junior third baseman Taylor Williams walked with one down and moved to second on a wild pitch, senior centerfielder Ansley Ard sent a double into the gap in right-center, scoring Williams easily.
The Gamecocks also picked up some good defense, with the battery making plays to keep the no-no going. Senior catcher Jordan Bizzell had the highlight-reel catch in the fourth, diving to catch a bunt near the Catamounts’ on-deck circle to get the second out of the frame. Elliott, who notched her second save, also made a great second out to an inning in the sixth, snagging a liner right back to her.
Blue came out on fire, striking out four of the first seven batters she faced, all looking.
It’s the 48th no-hitter for the Gamecocks since 1983.
â€¢ Senior left fielder Alaynie Page led off South Carolina’s half of the first with a single, extending her hitting streak to 13 games.
â€¢ Freshman right fielder Kennedy Clark went 2-for-3.
â€¢ Blue used 66 pitches to navigate her five innings of work.
Tweet of the Game:
— Gamecock Softball (@GamecockSoftbll) March 2, 2016
Head coach Beverly Smith
“Nickie and (Jessica) together were dominating. They were both very efficient and attacked the plate. I’m just really proud of both of them. You can’t have a no-hitter without good defense. Western Carolina is a very good hitting team.”
On Ard’s clutch hit
“Ard had a really good at-bat, but it was Taylor’s at-bat that was the clutch one. She drew the walk that allowed that RBI to happen.”
Junior pitcher Nickie Blue
“I told (Jordan) Bizzell before the game that today’s plan was going to be efficiency. From the first batter, I wanted to go right at them and make them beat me on my best”
South Carolina hosts UConn, Kennesaw State and Michigan State this weekend in the Gamecock Invitational. KSU and UConn battle in the tournament’s first game on Friday at 1:30 p.m., with the Gamecocks facing the KSU Owls at 4 p.m. on Friday.