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March 11, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. – For the first time in just over three weeks, the South Carolina softball team will play on their home turf as they host No. 12/13 LSU in SEC play this weekend. USC has not played at home since Feb. 16. The Gamecocks (18-9, 3-0) and Tigers (16-3, 0-0) will face off in a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and conclude the series Sunday with a 1 p.m. single game. Saturday is “Youth Day”. Youths are encouraged to wear their team softball jersey for free admission. On Sunday, it is Garnet and Black Day and anyone wearing garnet and black get in for $1.

The series marks the conference opener for the Tigers, while USC opened earlier in the week and swept Arkansas 3-0 in Fayetteville. For the USC-LSU series, the Tigers lead 16-8 and last year, the Gamecocks went 1-2 in the series down in Baton Rouge. The last time the two teams met was in the SEC Tournament and USC fell 2-0 to the Tigers. The Gamecocks have claimed at least one win in the series for the past two years. The last time USC was swept by LSU was in 2002 at their place.

LSU enters the series 16-3 and currently has an eight-game win streak. The Tigers are coming off of a 6-2 win over Nicholls State and have outscored their opponents 63-7 during their streak.

Stephanie Hill leads at the plate for LSU with a .433 average while Vanessa Soto leads in RBIs with 27 and Lauren Castle leads in hits with 28. In the circle, Emily Turner is 8-1 (1.54 ERA) while Tiffany Garcia is 4-0 (1.50) and Megan Jolly is 4-2 (2.41).

Meghan Cornett is back in the lead in hitting average for the Gamecocks as she boasts a .407 average after going 6-for-12 against Arkansas earlier this week. SEC Player of the Week selection Jessica Josker leads the team in hits with 41 and is second on the team in runs scored with 18. Josker is also hitting a healthy .398. USC’s third threat is sophomore McKenna Hughes. Hughes, a Lexington, S.C. native and Brookland-Cayce graduate, leads the team in RBIs with 25 and is hitting .317 with a six home runs, also a team high.

USC will look to Melanie Henkes, to lead the charge against the Tigers as she enters the weekend with an 8-3 record and a 1.57 ERA. Another pitcher the Gamecocks will look for a strong performance from is freshman Kate Pouliot. Pouliot is 4-1 in her last five appearances and has just jumped over the .500 mark with her last win, a career shutout over Arkansas.

The games can be followed live via the Internet audio broadcast with Lane Wofford or Gametracker live stats at