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May 6, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks (26-25-1, 9-15 SEC) have clinched their spot in the 2005 SEC Softball Tournament and will now close out the regular season when they host the Mississippi State Bulldogs (31-25, 11-16 SEC) this weekend. A 1 p.m. doubleheader is scheduled for Saturday and the final game of the season is set for Sunday, also at 1 p.m. at Beckham Field. This also marks the final home games for seniors Kristin Hall, Aleca Johnson and Meghan Cornett.

South Carolina leads the series against the Bulldogs 18-8 and last year won the series 2-1 in Starkville. With a 9-12 home record this season, the Gamecocks will attempt to reach the .500 mark. USC has not won a game at home since March 29 against North Carolina, losing six straight.

The outcome of the MSU series along with how other SEC teams fair this weekend, will determine the seed for the Gamecocks at the SEC Tournament. Seedings are determined by win percentage and with the current No. 8 seed heading into the weekend, USC can stay where they are or move up to the sixth or seventh seed.

Leading the charge for the Gamecocks in their final series of the season are the three seniors, Hall, Johnson and Cornett. In their four years, the three student-athletes have compiled a 141-89-1 record and a .636 win percentage. They have also advanced to the SEC Tournament four straight years and the NCAA Tournament, three straight years.

An infielder from Palm Bay, Fla., Hall has seen action in 124 games. She was named to the 2003 All-Regional Tournament Team as a designated player and she is a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection.

Johnson is the lone South Carolina native among the trio and she has etched her name in the USC record book as the Gamecocks’ leader in career saves with 17. From Seneca, S.C., Johnson was a 2002 All-Regional Tournament Team selection and also ranks eighth among USC’s all-time leaders in career strikeouts with 279.

Cornett, has been the one consistent in the Gamecock lineup and for the last four seasons, she has been the starting first baseman for USC. Cornett is the only player to have played and started every game all four years (231). She is the all-time career defensive leader and ranks fourth on the Gamecocks’ all-time career home run list with 17. The Cocoa, Fla. native was also named to the 2004 SEC Good Works Team and the 2002 All-Regional Tournament Team. This year, Cornett leads the Gamecocks in hitting with a .382 batting average and she was named SEC Player of the Week on March 14. She was also named SEC Player of the Week in 2002 and is the only Gamecock position player to earn this honor more than once in a career.

The three seniors will be recognized prior to Sunday’s game. Saturday is Garnet and Black Day – every fan that wears garnet and black will get in for $1 admission. Sunday is Family Day. All children get in free with a paying adult.