SB: Sand Sharks split with Bobcats, sweep Seahawks in key conference games

USCB softball delivered in a crucial Sun Conference road trip, earning a series split at St. Thomas on Thursday before completing a Saturday shutout sweep over Keiser. 

Ally Muraskin stole the show again in the opener at St. Thomas, tossing all seven innings while picking up 11 strikeouts. The Sand Sharks did all their damage in the fourth inning, scoring five runs in the frame as Zinia Hampleton, Jodi Hatcher, Devon Weller, and Bri Dunn all picked up run-scoring hits. Muraskin was dominant all the way to the end, allowing just two runners to reach base combined in the final four innings. Dunn led the offense in the series-opening 5-0 win, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.

St. Thomas took control of game two in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Daniela Bautista plated a pair of runs to go up 2-0. USCB looked to rally in the seventh when Rachel Frankhouser reached with an infield single. The senior moved to second base with two outs, but the visitors couldn’t push any runs across. Libby Carey provided an excellent effort in relief to keep her side in the game, allowing just one hit in two innings of work. 

The Sand Sharks kept up the strong play on the road Saturday at Keiser, opening the scoring in the second with a Mackenzie Freeman two-run double to right-center scoring Frankhouser and Amber Locasto. Just one inning later, USCB doubled the advantage to 4-0 thanks to a pair of Weller and Dunn singles before Shania Domingue ripped a two-bagger scoring both baserunners. Muraskin kept her dominant stretch going, shutting down the Seahawks to earn a complete-game shutout win. It was the 13th victory of the season for the FIU transfer, who dazzled again with five strikeouts. Weller and Locasto notched a pair of hits each while Domingue drove in two runs.

The series finale was a scoreless one through the first seven innings, as the tandem of Muraskin and Maria Molloseau mowed down the Keiser bats. USCB awoke the offense in the top half of the eighth, as Domingue came through again with an RBI-knock before Locasto lined a double to right-center to make it a 2-0 game. Keiser’s Mikayla Frost put the pressure on in the bottom half with a single to center field, and Ally Thompson bunted the two Seahawks over to put the tying run in scoring position. But Muraskin finished the job, forcing an Elsie Rivera flyout to earn her own win and cap off the doubleheader shutout and sweep. Molloseau set the tone with an impressive five-inning start, allowing just two hits in the outing. Domingue continued her standout form with a 2-for-3 performance while driving in a run.

The Sand Sharks also competed in a non-conference doubleheader on Friday, defeating Florida National 5-1 before dropping the rematch 7-6 in eight innings. Ashlyn Alte led the offense in the series, going 4-for-7 with a trio of runs driven in. 

USCB (22-18, 12-8) continues Sun Conference play at Coastal Georgia on Wednesday. 

By Wes Kerr

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