For the 14th-ranked USC Beaufort softball team, the homestretch is packed into one weekend and one long bus ride.
The Sand Sharks play three doubleheaders against three Sun Conference opponents in three days. And the outcomes will play a big part in where USC Beaufort (32-6, 8-2) is seeded for the conference tournament, which will be held May 1 through May 3 in Clermont, Fla.
USCB plays a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Friday at Warner (14-18, 6-6) in Lake Wales, Fla. Then, at 1 p.m. Saturday, the Sand Sharks play a doubleheader at Ave Maria (26-24, 6-6).
Finally, on Sunday, USCB plays a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Thomas (18-18, 6-4) in Thomasville, Ga.
With four wins, the Sand Sharks would clinch a share of the top seed for the tournament. Five wins would guarantee USCB the top seed.
But the Sand Sharks' opponents certainly will be motivated. The top seven teams qualify for the conference tournament, and Thomas and Ave Maria have not yet locked up one of the three remaining spots for the double-elimination tournament.
"We want to finish the trip on top. Everybody is going to bring their A-game," USC Beaufort head coach Laura Heberling said earlier this week. "It's going to be about who stays focused the entire game, doesn't make the errors, gets the big hit. We're ready for it."
THE BIG WEEKEND
A look at the schedule this weekend for USC Beaufort's 14th-ranked softball team (32-6, 8-2 Sun):