CLERMONT, Fla. -- With the regular-season title already to its credit, the University of South Carolina Beaufort softball team is one win short of adding the Sun Conference tournament crown to a growing list of accolades.
Taylor Triplett drove in three runs and Kristy Cook struck out eight in a five-hitter as the 10th-ranked Sand Sharks beat St. Thomas, 6-1, on Friday at National Training Center, sending USCB into Saturday's championship game.
USCB took control early against the Bobcats, scoring three runs in the first and two in the second to build a 5-0 advantage with the help of St. Thomas' sloppy fielding. The Bobcats committed six errors in the game, leading to four unearned runs.
Sammi Shaffren started the scoring with an RBI double, and CJ Browder added an RBI single and scored on an error later in the first inning. Triplett drove in two runs with the single in the second and added an RBI single in the seventh.
That was plenty of support for Cook, whose only blemish was an unearned run in the fourth. The recently-named Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year improved to 20-0 and lowered her ERA to 1.77.
USCB (40-4) is scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and will need only one win to claim the title, while its opponent would have to beat the Sand Sharks twice to win the championship.
The Sand Sharks' next challenger is far from settled, as Friday's final game was suspended by rain with No. 6 seed Embry-Riddle leading No. 3 Southeastern 3-0 in the top of the third. The winner of that game will advance to face St. Thomas, with the victor earning a spot in the championship game opposite USCB.