Courtney Blades
Southern Miss Golden Eagles – No. 5
Pitcher
Born: (1978-05-16) May 16, 1978 (age 43)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Courtney Lynn Blades-Rogers (born May 16, 1978) is an American, former collegiate All-American, right-handed batting softball pitcher. She was a starting pitcher for two NCAA Division I teams: the Nicholls State Colonels and later the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. For her career she collected 151 wins (second most) and 1,773 strikeouts (fifth most). She was awarded the Honda Sports Award Softball Player of the Year in 2000 and was recently named the #7 Greatest NCAA Pitcher of All-Time.

Early life and education

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Blades graduated from Belaire High School in Baton Rouge in 1996.[1]

Blades began her career with the Colonels and earned the 1997 Southland Newcomer of The Year Award. She continued her excellent play to earn both Player and Pitcher of The Year in 1998. Her combined ERA (career best), strikeouts, wins, shutouts and innings pitched stats led the league, which earned her a pitching Triple Crown[2][3]

At the close of 1998, Blades two-year career placed her in the top-10 for school records in batting average (.320), shutouts and ERA; her 613 strikeouts set the record.[4]

Beginning in the 1999 season, Blades transferred to Southern Mississippi as a junior to continue working with her relocated head coach Lu Harris. She was honored with First Team All-American honors.[5] She threw three no-hitters and a perfect game and proceeded to strike out 497 batters, setting a new NCAA season record, eclipsing Michele Granger's previous mark of 484, set in 1993. Her wins, ERA, innings and shutouts set new school records. The wins were the fourth best total ever in the NCAA as she led the nation that year.[6][7]

Blades led the Golden Eagles to an appearance at the 1999 Women's College World Series. It was a first for the school program and especially notable because it was their reactivation after 7 years of hiatus.

As a senior in 2000, Blades would earn All-USA, USA Pitcher of The Year, USA MVP and a First Team All-American citation.[8][9] She also picked up the Honda Sports Award for softball in 2000 as the best collegiate player that year.[10] Blades threw 4 no-hitters and two perfect games and would win 52 in her final season, setting the NCAA Division I single season and Senior Class records.[11] Her ERA, WHIP, innings pitched and shutouts also reset school, conference records and were career best (excluding ERA), and also placed Blades in the top-5 for inning and shutout records in an NCAA season. Along with USA conference pitching Triple Crown, her career best strikeout ratio of 11.6 led the nation.[12]

On March 1, 2000, Blades struck out 18 batters in a 7-inning, 7-1 win against the Samford Bulldogs, her career-high for a regulation game.[13] The performance tied her with the NCAA fourth best (third at the time) regulation game record holders. Beginning on April 15 and lasting until May 7, Blades pitched a career best 80 consecutive scoreless innings, a school and conference record and ranked top-10 for the NCAA. In one of the games on May 6 against the USF Bulls, she broke Michele Granger's previous NCAA Division I career strikeout record of 1,640 by reaching 1,643.[14] During the NCAA Tournament to reach that year's Women's College World Series, Blades would notch her career, school and conference record best 21 strikeouts against the LSU Tigers in a 1-0, 13-inning loss on May 20, 2000[15] The game total was also the tournament record that held until 2004.

At the WCWS, Blades twirled her second season perfect game on May 25. It was the fourth perfect game ever pitched at the World Series. Blades fanned 11 of the No. 2 seeded, 2000 NCAA batting champs, the Arizona Wildcats, on opening day to also break the NCAA season wins record.[16] Southern Mississippi would end the season with a third-place finish at the series and ranked 4th nationally under the command of Blades, who was selected to the WCWS All-Tournament Team.[17]

She finished the season with a total of 663 strikeouts, becoming the first pitcher to break 500 and 600 strikeouts in a season. That mark brought her career total to 1,773, a record that would stand until February 25, 2006 when Texas Longhorns pitcher Cat Osterman passed the mark against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The eagle owns the school career records in just two seasons for wins (95), strikeouts (1,160), ERA (0.93), shutouts (50) and innings pitched (717.2).[18] Blades also owned the conference USA career strikeouts crown and now ranks second all-time, while her wins, ERA and innings are all top-5 for a career.[19] For both schools, Blades is ranked second in wins, 5th in strikeouts, 4th in innings pitched and 8th for shutouts, while being tied 5th in perfect games for an NCAA career.[20]

Playing career

Blades played with the Stratford Brakettes for one tournament in 2000. She pitched in 5 games with a 2-1 win-loss record, 37 strikeouts, 1 earned run in 24.1 innings, putting her ERA at 0.29. One of the wins Blades pitched was a perfect game with 11 K's against the Decatir Twisters.[21]

Coaching career

In 2001, Blades served as an assistant coach under Lu Harris at Georgia.[22]

Awards & honors

On November 4, 2000, Blades was inducted by the Southern Mississippi Director of Athletics Richard Giannini into the newly created Southern Miss Legends Club; other members include Reggie Collier, Brett Favre, Ray Guy, Sammy Winder, Janice Felder, Nick Revon, and Clarence Weatherspoon.[23]

Blades was ceremoniously invited into the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles Hall of Fame on March 31, 2006.[24] On July 27, 2012, Blades was also inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.[25][26]

Statistics

Nicholls State & Southern Mississippi

YEAR W L GP GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP
1997 27 14 48 42 27 13 2 288.1 200 60 50 83 303 1.21 0.98
1998 29 7 45 34 32 14 3 255.2 117 39 30 81 310 0.82 0.77
1999 43 6 56 54 37 22 1 318.0 141 61 45 103 497 0.99 0.76
2000 52 7 66 60 46 28 2 399.2 152 61 51 117 663 0.89 0.67
TOTALS 151 34 215 190 142 77 8 1261.2 610 221 176 384 1773 0.97 0.79

Athletic accomplishments

References

  1. ^ "#5 Courtney Blades". University of Southern Mississippi. Archived from the original on February 27, 2001. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  2. ^ "Southland Softball" (PDF). Southland.org. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "1998 Division I Softball Statistics" (PDF). Ncaa.org. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  4. ^ "Nicholls Softball Record Book" (PDF). Geauxcolonels.com. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  5. ^ "1999 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-America Teams". Nfca.org. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "Razor-Sharp Blades Southern Miss Pitcher Sets Single-Season Strikeout Record". Newsok.com. May 24, 1999. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  7. ^ "Final 1999 Division I Softball Statistics" (PDF). Ncaa.org. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "2000 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-America Teams". Nfca.org. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "Past Honda Sports Awards Winners For Softball". Collegiatewomensportsawards.com. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  11. ^ Hinton, Alan (June 13, 2010). "Whatever happened to former USM softball legend Courtney Blades?". Hattiesburg American. Retrieved June 18, 2010.[dead link]
  12. ^ "NCAA DIVISION I SOFTBALL INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM 2000 FINAL STATISTICS". Ncaa.org. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Southern Miss Pitcher Sets NCAA Career Strikeout Record". Lubbockonline.com. May 7, 2000. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  15. ^ "2000 Women's Division I Softball Baton Rouge LA Regional Game 9". Ncaa.org. May 20, 2000. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  16. ^ "2000 Women's Division I Softball College World Series Game 4". Ncaa.org. May 25, 2000. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  17. ^ "Division I Softball Championship Results" (PDF). Ncaa.org. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  18. ^ "Southern Miss 2019 Softball Almanac" (PDF). Southermiss.com. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  19. ^ "Conference USA Softball Record Book" (PDF). Conferenceusa.com. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  20. ^ "Softball Division I Records" (PDF). Ncaa.org. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  21. ^ "Brakettes 2001 Player Profiles". Brakettes.com. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  22. ^ "Bulldog Assistant Courtney Blades Invited To USA Softball Women's National Team Camp". University of Georgia. May 2, 2001. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  23. ^ "Courtney Blades, Fall 2000". Usm.edu. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  24. ^ "M-Club Alumni Association Announce Class of 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees". Southernmiss.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  25. ^ "Former Southern Miss Softball Player Courtney Blades-Rogers & Men's Golf Head Coach Sam Hall Elected To The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame". Southernmiss.com. September 26, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  26. ^ "Courtney Blades-Rogers". Msfame.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  27. ^ "Softball". CWSA. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  28. ^ "Blades & Berman Named To Conference USA's All-Decade Softball Team". Southernmiss.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2015.