Nickie Blue Leads NCAA Division I in Saves in 2014|
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Nickie Blue did something that only three other Gamecock pitchers have ever done - become a statistical champion for a year in NCAA Division I. Blue led the country in saves during her freshman campaign of 2014.
Blue's seven saves tied for the most in the country in 2014, and the NCAA will send a plaque to South Carolina in honor of that feat. The Longmont, Colo., native appeared in 47 games, 23 of those in relief. She ranks third in Gamecock history in both of those categories for a single season and second in saves, only trailing Megan Matthews' nine in 1999. A year later, Matthews tied for the country's top saves total, the last time a Gamecock pitcher earned such a distinction.
"What a great honor for Nickie Blue," said Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith." To be the national statistical leader in saves is an impressive accomplishment. Of course, I view this as a nod to the entire team. Getting the save means Julie Sarratt did her job early in the game, keeping our opponents down, and our defense was making plays. Nickie did a great job of coming in games, closing the door and getting ground balls for us. I am so happy for Nickie!"
Blue and Matthews both topped NCAA Division I in saves, Matthews in 2000, while one Gamecock legend garnered two tracked in South Carolina's record books. Trinity Johnson's outstanding 1997 season saw her lead the nation in strikeouts per seven innings (11.53) and ERA (0.35). The first Gamecock pitcher to lead the nation in anything was Darlene Lowery, a 2014 South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame inductee. Lowery fanned 9.49 batters per seven innings in 1987, the best rate in the nation.
South Carolina reports back to campus later this month and will begin preparations for the 2015 spring season during its fall practice period, which starts in September.