Feb. 26, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Redshirt freshman pitcher Jessica Barnes (1-1) recorded a career-high 15 strikeouts, and freshman Ashton Payne went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored, to propel South Carolina (10-5) to a 7-0 victory over the Georgia Southern Eagles (5-12) in the final game of the Gamecock Invitational Sunday. USC posted a five-run sixth to secure the first win of the season for Barnes and the second-place finish in the tournament.
The 15 strikeouts mark a team season high and the most by a Carolina pitcher since March 6, 2001 when Megan Matthews struck out 17 against Southern Miss. On the day, South Carolina pitching compiled 29 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched. Melissa Laliberte took the loss for the Eagles and fell to 2-4 on the year as she gave up seven runs on eight hits and struck out one.
USC also found their bats, as the seven runs were the most scored by the Gamecocks so far this season. In addition to Payne, junior McKenna Hughes went 2-for-4 with one run scored and Jessica Josker, Christie Hamilton and Ashley Smith each accounted for a hit to round out the total.
South Carolina tacked on a run in the first inning and never looked back. USC remained quiet until the sixth when the Gamecocks’ Kristi Hutchins drew a two-out bases loaded walk. From there, Payne knocked a triple, the first of her career and the second of the day for the Gamecocks, to clear the bases and took a 5-0 lead. South Carolina took advantage of another opportunity when Payne was at third and was able to score on a wild pitch for the second time of the game and put USC up 6-0.
The Garnet and Black’s final run of the game came in the seventh when Hughes led off the inning with a single and scored on an RBI double by Hamilton.
In the bottom of the seventh, GSU went down in order as Barnes capped off the evening by striking out Ashley Bluestein swinging to put No. 15 in the books.
With the win, USC finished 2-1 in the tournament and finished second behind Fordham, who went 3-0. NCSU came in third with a 1-2 record and Georgia Southern finished fourth with a 0-3 record.
The Gamecocks return to action Tuesday afternoon when they host Campbell in a doubleheader. That game time has been moved to a 3 p.m. start.