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Nickie Blue dominates as USC softball wins NCAA tournament opener

South Carolina pitcher Nickie Blue
South Carolina pitcher Nickie Blue dmclemore@thestate.com

Behind junior Nickie Blue’s controlling performance, South Carolina shut out South Florida 2-0 on Friday afternoon to start the 2016 NCAA Division I Softball Tournament.

Blue (19-12) scattered eight hits in her fourth shutout of the year. She was helped by two double plays, and didn’t walk a batter.

Blue shut down the middle of USF’s order, holding Juli Weber, Lee Ann Spivey and Erica Nunn, a trio which accounted for 109 RBIs this season, to an 0-for-9 day.

South Carolina (37-21) wasted little time getting on the board in the first. Senior left fielder Alaynie Page started the game with a single and stole second, setting up freshman centerfielder Kennedy Clark’s RBI double.

Insurance came in the sixth for the Gamecocks. Second baseman Krystan White and right fielder Ansley Ard drew walks to start the inning. After an out, the duo advanced on a passed ball, with White scoring on shortstop Kenzi Maguire’s grounder to second to make it 2-0.

USF starter Erica Nunn (27-11) took the loss, giving up two runs, one earned, on three hits and five walks.

South Carolina faces Florida State at noon on Saturday. Florida State defeated Florida A&M 1-0. Jessica Burroughs pitched a no-hitter and struck out 14 in the Seminoles’ win.

Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional

Friday

Game 1: South Carolina 2, South Florida 0

Game 2: Florida State 1, Florida A&M 0

Saturday

Game 3: South Carolina (37-21) vs. Florida State (49-8), Noon

Game 4: South Florida (44-15) vs. Florida A&M (27-29), 2:30 p.m.

Game 5: G3 loser vs. G4 winner, 5 p.m.

Sunday

Game 6: G3 winner vs. G5 winner, Noon

x-Game 7: G3 winner vs. G5 winner, 2:30 p.m.

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