Victories keep USC Beaufort in hunt at Sun Conference softball tourney

sports@islandpacket.comMay 5, 2014 

The USC Beaufort softball team traversed half of its grueling path to a Sun Conference Tournament title Sunday in Clermont, Fla., winning three straight games at the National Training Center to reach the loser's bracket final.

The Sand Sharks (38-10) started the day by finishing off a 17-3 rout of Thomas in five innings, then knocked out No. 1 seed Embry-Riddle with a 1-0 victory in the afternoon and blanked Ave Maria 8-0 in the nightcap.

USCB held a 10-3 lead over Thomas when their game was suspended because of rain Friday morning, and the Sand Sharks picked up where they left off after a 48-hour delay. Alexandria Simmons' grand slam made it 15-3 and USCB tacked on two more runs in the third, while Ashlie Layman pitched three scoreless frames coming out of the break.

Simmons finished the game with six RBIs, and joined Marissa Becker, Shelby Zipperer and Missy Hughes with two hits apiece.

The Sand Sharks found themselves in a pitchers' duel in their second game of the day, with USCB's Kristy Cook and Alexis Estrada matching zeroes for most of the night. USCB finally broke the tie in the seventh, when Hughes lined a single up the middle to score Whitley Martin with the game's only run.

Hughes went 3-for-3 against the Eagles and Sammi Shaffren added two hits. Cook (14-7) allowed three hits and one walk and struck out four in the shutout.

Layman (18-1) followed Cook's lead in the nightcap, tossing a two-hitter to blank the Gyrenes. She worked around five walks and struck out three.

Mariaha Sanborn went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, Simmons blasted a three-run homer and Taylor Triplett added two hits and scored twice to lead the offense.

USCB advances to face Southeastern at 10 a.m. Monday, and the winner will need to beat undefeated St. Thomas twice to claim the tournament crown.

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