It was Ally Muraskin’s debut as a Sand Shark on Saturday, and it certainly lived up to the hype.
The senior tandem of Muraskin and Maria Molloseau dominated on the mound, combining for two complete games, 11 strikeouts, and just one run as faces new and old led USCB to a season-opening doubleheader sweep of Columbia International at Richard Gray Sports Complex.
“Very pleased with the pitching and the defense,” head coach Bailey Wigness said. “Any time you shut a team out or only give up one run, you have a good chance to win the game. We had some things to work on offensively, but we’re all very pleased with defense and pitching.”
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Molloseau got the ball in game one and cruised through five scoreless innings. The Sand Shark offense took some time to find their groove, but turned it on in the fourth. Shania Domingue and Amber Locasto came through with back-to-back hits, and a Zinia Hampleton hit-by-pitch set up a bloop single by Jaci Coleman to open the scoring. USCB tacked on another run in the inning, plating Locasto on a double-play grounder to go up 2-0.
Locasto continued her tremendous afternoon in the fifth, hitting one down the left-field line to bring in two runs and double the lead. The Rams got on the board via a fielding error, but Molloseau didn’t let them get any closer, finishing off a stellar 4-1 opening win.
“It feels great, especially after not being able to finish the season last year,” Molloseau said. “I knew that when it counted the defense would have my back, so I just kept my composure and everything was good. Any win is a good win, obviously some room for improvement, just some momentum to keep moving forward.”
The second contest was the Ally Muraskin show. The Florida International transfer threw a gem, earning the complete-game one-hit shutout in just 81 pitches.
USCB’s offense once again fell flat in the early innings, but came through in the fourth. Rachel Frankhouser singled with one out before Alyssa Smith laid down a beautiful bunt for a base hit. Both runners advanced on a throwing error, and Devon Weller picked up the RBI groundout to give the Sand Sharks a 1-0 lead. It was Locasto again who added some big insurance, dropping a single in right center to score Hampleton in the fifth and make it 2-0.
Muraskin cruised to the finish line on the mound, racking up five strikeouts in the last three innings.
“Everything was going for me and my teammates behind me in the dugout,” Muraskin said. “We all worked together as a team. The catchers behind the plate accomplished everything and we fought the whole game and killed it. If we keep following behind Coach and trusting the process, everything will work out in the end.”
Frankhouser went a perfect 3-for-3 in the doubleheader and added a walk. Locasto also shined Saturday, going 3-for-5 with a team-leading 3 RBI plus a stolen base. Shania Domingue was 3-for-7 with a double and a stolen base while scoring two runs.
The Sand Sharks (2-0) host Montreat for a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 7.
Written by Wes Kerr / Photo by Bob Cragin