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April 28, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina softball will host the 19th-ranked Auburn Tigers in its final home series of the season this weekend, April 29-30. Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 3 p.m. and Sunday’s single game is set for 1 p.m. The Gamecocks enter the contest 26-26, 6-17 in the SEC and continue to fight for a berth to the SEC Tournament, May 11-13 in Athens, Ga. USC is currently eighth in the conference with six games left in the season. Only the top eight teams in the conference play in the tournament.

It is also an event filled weekend for Gamecock softball. Prior to Saturday’s doubleheader, USC will honor head coach Joyce Compton and her 20 years as head coach of the Gamecocks. In between games, USC will recognize former Gamecock softball players visiting for alumni weekend, including several players from the 1997 Women’s College World Series team. On Sunday, USC will pay tribute to its senior class, Ashley Smith and Melanie Henkes. Both players rank among several Carolina all-time lists. Smith is tied for fifth all-time in home runs with 17, while Henkes ranks eighth on the strikeout list.

South Carolina leads the series against Auburn 16-11, but the Tigers have won the last eight meetings. USC last took a victory from Auburn in 2003. Last year, South Carolina fell to the Tigers in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Auburn is coming off of a 2-1 series loss to No. 4 Alabama earlier in the week, and is third in the SEC West, sixth overall. The Tigers have already clinched a berth in the tournament.

A series win would keep the Gamecocks in the running for a seed in the tournament heading into the final week of competition. Since its inception in 1997, South Carolina has never missed an SEC Tournament.

As a team, the Gamecocks are hitting .231, while Auburn is hitting .291. In SEC action only, USC is registering .184 and Auburn is hitting .249. The Gamecocks are led in hitting by Ashton Payne with .276 overall and .242 in SEC games. McKenna Hughes leads in RBI with 26 overall and nine in SEC games. Sarah Ghezzi leads the Tigers with a .375 average overall and Kristina McCain leads in SEC games, .338.

This marks the final home series of the season for the Gamecocks and is the second to last series of the season. USC is 15-7 at Beckham Field in 2006.

All three games can be heard live via Gametracker or live audio on