Blackburn receives national honor from NFCA

Blackburn receives national honor from NFCA

Maryville College's Nicole Blackburn had a huge weekend for the Scots, as the sophomore hurler recorded both wins in MC's 2-2 USA South weekend.

Blackburn was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top Performer of the Week, as she also earned Pitcher of the Week accolades from the USA South Athletic Conference and Tennessee Sports Writers Association.

"Nicole was outstanding this weekend," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "She has been consistent all year long. She is someone we can rely on to keep batters off balance and scatter hits."

Blackburn had three appearances on the week, including two complete game shutouts. She pitched 14.0 innings with a 0.00 ERA against 57 batters. The sophomore tallied 10 strikeouts, while only giving up 12 hits.

"Coach [Cassie] Gault does a really good about changing up our pitches – throwing in a changeup or a drop ball in there to throw batters off," Blackburn said. "It really helps to throw to Alexus Murray. She does a really good job of keeping me sane and keeping my head on straight. That helps a lot."

In a 9-0, five-inning win over LaGrange, Blackburn earned the win in five innings. She allowed only four hits, while sitting down five batters via strikeout.

On Sunday, the Carter High School product again earned the complete game shutout, as she pitched all seven innings. Blackburn allowed seven hits on the afternoon, while striking out four with a pair of walks.

The sophomore has allowed only six walks throughout the 2017 season.

"I've been really working on getting ahead in the count first pitch, and that's something we've really been working on as a whole," Blackburn said. "We've been working on perfecting my spin and my pitches."

Finally, in the Scots' final game of the weekend, Blackburn came in as the relief pitcher. She tossed 2.0 innings, allowing just one hit with a strikeout. The sophomore held the Hawks at bay, as the Scots' rally fell short in the bottom of the seventh, 6-3.

Maryville moves to 17-5 on the season, as they hold a USA South Western Division leading record of 8-2.