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The 21st-ranked University of South Carolina Beaufort softball team hosts Southern Wesleyan for a non-conference doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hardeeville's Richard Gray Sports Complex.
The Sand Sharks will observe Military Appreciation Day with special guests on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. USCB will collect donations to be used to send care packages to military personnel overseas through Operation Gratitude.
All active-duty military and veterans will be admitted free of charge and recognized before the first game.
The Sand Sharks swept a season-opening doubleheader from St. Andrews last Saturday, 10-0 and 7-3, to start the season 2-0 and improve to 28-2 all-time at home.
Southern Wesleyan (1-1), which split its season-opening doubleheader with Anderson University on Wednesday, features a couple of familiar faces for Bluffton High School fans.
Senior Candace Graves is one of the Warriors' top three returning pitchers from last season's 11-36 squad. She was 3-8 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 games.
Graves was also one of the Warriors' top hitters, batting a career-high .276 with three RBIs in 105 at bats. She hits out of the leadoff spot.
Another former Bobcat, sophomore Jessica Schoch, is an outfielder for the Warriors.
After USCB's strong showing last weekend, the Sand Sharks find themselves at or near the top of the NAIA in a lot of statistical categories for the young season.
As of Feb. 7, the Sand Sharks led the NAIA in doubles per game (3), home runs per game (1.5), runs scored per game (8.5), RBIs per game (8) and slugging percentage (.654).
Individually, junior outfielder Melanie Goolsby led or tied for the national lead in doubles (2), doubles per game (1), hits per game (2.5) and batting average (.833).
Junior shortstop C.J. Browder led or tied for the national lead in doubles (2), doubles per game (1), home runs (2), home runs per game (1), RBIs per game (2.5), total bases per game (6) and slugging percentage (1.500). And sophomore outfielder Shelby Zipperer led the nation in runs scored per game (2).
In the circle, the Sand Sharks are just as dominant, which could spell trouble for the Warriors, who hit .198 as a team in 2012.
USC Beaufort's pitching staff ranks fourth in the NAIA in ERA (1.08) and eighth in opponents' batting average (.244). Sophomore Kristy Cook ranks fifth in hits allowed per nine innings (3.6), strikeouts per nine innings (10.8) and opponents' batting average (.133).
STEALING A RECORD
With only one season under the program's belt, it may not seem like a milestone, but junior outfielder Melanie Goolsby became USC Beaufort's all-time stolen base leader with two steals against St. Andrews last weekend to give her 21 for her career.
Goolsby had 19 stolen bases last season, one behind Barbara Phillips for the team lead. Phillips did not return to the team this year for her sophomore season.
Southern Wesleyan (1-1) at No. 21 USC Beaufort (2-0), doubleheader
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Richard Gray Sports Complex, Hardeeville
Series: First meeting
TV: Game 1 -- The County Channel (Hargray 9/113, Comcast 2, Time Warner 63)