SB: Sand Sharks clinch postseason berth in split with Fire

USCB softball punched its ticket to the 2021 Sun Conference Tournament on Saturday, splitting a Senior Day doubleheader with visiting Southeastern in a 6-0 shutout win and 8-6 defeat.

The Sand Sharks got the offense started right away in game one, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Devon Weller scored on a throwing error after reaching base on a single, and Kaleigh Furbush doubled the lead with an RBI-groundout. 

Maria Molloseau was dominant in the circle for USCB, allowing just three hits in the contest and holding down a strong Southeastern squad. The home team added more run support for the senior in the third with a stellar two-out rally. Francie Gaskin drove in the first run, Hoolie Garcia singled to bring home another, Rachel Frankhouser tallied an RBI on a fielder’s choice, and Amber Locasto tacked on the fourth score driving in Gaskin. 

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Molloseau finished off the memorable performance in her final home start punctuated by a game-ending double play flyout to clinch a spot in the Sun Conference Tournament. The senior pitcher was spectacular, picking up the win and allowing only three baserunners in the seven-inning outing. Ashlyn Alte, Bri Dunn, and Locasto paced the offense, posting 2-for-3 performances. 

Southeastern grabbed the early lead in the rematch with a two-run second inning before the Sand Sharks answered in the third. Garcia continued her strong day with a sacrifice fly, Mackenzie Freeman came through with a huge pinch-hit single to tie the game, and Jodi Hatcher drilled a base hit to score Gaskin and put her team up 3-2. 

USCB tacked on another in the fifth on a fielding error, but the Fire flipped the script with a six-run sixth to take control at 8-4 on the strength of four hits and two errors. The Sand Sharks refused to quit, as Gaskin and Frankhouser plated a run each in the sixth to cut the lead in half. 

After Sierra Bilinski shut down the Fire in the top half of the seventh, USCB loaded the bases and put the tying run on second with singles from Weller, Dunn, and Alte with one out, but the ensuing two batters were retired to preserve the Southeastern win. 

Alte led the way at the plate for USCB, going 3-for-4 and scoring a run. Furbush, Weller, and Hatcher notched two hits apiece, and Frankhouser drove in two in her final home game as a Sand Shark. 

USCB (23-21, 13-11) has earned the No.4 seed for the Sun Conference Tournament and will open with a matchup against Keiser on Thursday in Clermont, Florida. 

By Wes Kerr

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