The University of South Carolina Beaufort softball team crowned a new home run queen during a doubleheader split Thursday against St. Francis (Ind.) in the Smash Hit Classic at Richard Gray Sports Complex in Hardeeville.
Junior Mariaha Sanborn became the Sand Sharks' all-time home run leader with the 24th blast of her career in a 14-3 victory in the second game of the day, as the Sand Sharks bounced back after committing four errors and stranding 12 runners in a 6-4 loss in the opener.
The Sand Sharks (16-4) gave up four unearned runs en route to their first home loss of the season in the opener. A pair of errors in the first inning led to two St. Francis runs. USCB answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame on RBI singles from Taylor Triplett and Sanborn, but the Sand Sharks left the bases loaded.
The Cougars regained the lead on Casey Loshe's RBI single in the second and made it 5-2 on Stephanie Whitman's two-run homer in the third. USCB got one back with a Chelsey Blasingame RBI single in the fifth, but Whitman homered again in the sixth to make it 6-3.
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Maddie Byrd led off the seventh with an opposite-field homer for the Sand Sharks, and USCB brought the winning run to the plate before the Cougars shut down the rally.
Heather Zengler went the distance for the win, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on 14 hits. Kristy Cook (6-2) was the tough-luck loser, giving up six runs -- only two earned -- on six hits in a complete game.
Byrd and Sanborn each had three hits to lead USCB's offense.
The Sand Sharks didn't have the same trouble scoring in the second game, as they matched their season high for runs. USCB plated six runs in the first inning, tacked on three in the third and added five in the fourth to invoke the eight-run mercy rule.
Byrd and Sanborn again made huge contributions. Byrd went 3 for 3 with an RBI to finish 6 for 6 on the day. Sanborn was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including her record-breaking three-run shot in the fourth. Missy Hughes added three hits, including a two-run triple, and Whitley Martin had a two-run single.
Ashlie Layman (7-0) picked up the win, holding the Cougars to one run on three hits over four innings while striking out seven. The Thomas Heyward Academy grad improved to 18-0 in her career at USCB.
The Cougars continue the tournament when they play Bryan (Tenn.) in a doubleheader at noon Friday, and the Sand Sharks will wrap up the tournament with two games against Bryan at 1 p.m. Saturday.