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Feb. 4, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks will open up the 2005 season as they host the Gamecock Invitational at Beckham Field this weekend, Feb. 5-6. On Saturday, USC will open against Stephen F. Austin at noon and follow with Coastal Carolina at 2 p.m. The Gamecocks will play UNC-Greensboro on Sunday at 11 a.m. before participating in bracket play to determine the tournament champion.

“This is an exciting time of the year with opening day tomorrow. No matter how many times it comes around it’s still always exciting with the anticipation of a new season and what lies ahead,” said Head Coach Joyce Compton. “I’m glad it’s finally here and we get to see just where we are and what we have.”

USC returns nine letterwinners and five position starters from the 2004 season and has its largest class ever with nine incoming freshmen. USC’s top returning hitters are senior Meghan Cornett and junior Ashley Smith. Junior Melanie Henkes and senior Aleca Johnson are USC’s two returning pitchers and have a combined record of 28-18.

The Gamecocks are 26-3 in season openers and in 18 years under head coach Joyce Compton, Carolina is 16-2. Last year, USC opened with a doubleheader win against Charlotte. USC then went 4-0 at the Gamecock Invitational to claim the title.

This marks the first meeting between Stephen F. Austin and USC. It will be the 39th meeting against Coastal Carolina, the first of three this year. Against UNC-Greensboro, USC leads 5-1. The last time the two teams met was in 1997 and the Gamecocks won 5-0.

USC ended last season with a 1-2 run at the NCAA Regional in Tucson, Ariz. The Gamecocks defeated Centenary but fell to La.-Lafayette and Northwestern to end the season.

This weekend is “Kids Get In Free” for the tournament. All school age youths get free admission throughout the weekend.