March 13, 2004
BATON ROUGE, La. - It was a long day for softball as the No. 15/16 South Carolina Gamecocks took nine innings to defeat the fourth-ranked LSU Tigers 6-4 in game two of the Saturday doubleheader. Junior Meghan Cornett hit a two-run home run in the ninth to give USC a 6-4 lead. Stacey Johnson, who entered the game in the sixth inning, pitched 3.2 innings to earn the victory. Johnson, who improved to 8-1, gave up one run on three hits. Samantha Jennings provided the majority of USC's offense as she went 3-for-5, including two home runs, scored three runs and drove in three.
LSU's Kristin Schmidt (14-3), who entered the game in the eighth inning gave up the long ball to Cornett and took the loss. For the day that took five hours and 45 minutes to play 19 innings of softball, Johnson pitched 12.2-plus innings and went 1-1 while Schmidt pitched 12 innings for a 1-1 record.
USC hit three home runs, two by Jennings and one by Cornett, to score five runs while LSU hit three home runs to score three runs.
The Gamecocks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Nancy Crane reached base on an error and with two outs, stole second, before scoring on an RBI single by Ashley Smith. USC added two more runs in the third inning when Jennings hit a two-run home run, her seventh of the season, and put the Garnet and Black up 3-0.
The Tigers fought back in the fifth inning as Camille Harris led off the inning with a solo home run to left field and Lauren Castle hit a one-out solo home run to cut the Gamecocks lead to one. With two outs, Lauren Delahoussaye singled to shortstop and brought the leading run to the plate but first baseman Stephanie Hill grounded out to first to end the inning.
Julie Wiese hit a solo homerun, LSU's third of the game, to tie the game 3-3 in the sixth inning. Henkes hit Sara Fitzgerald with a pitch to put the leading run at first. South Carolina then brought in Stacey Johnson to relieve Henkes. Harris flied out to right field for the second out of the inning, but LaDonia Hughes was hit by a pitch to give LSU runners at second and first. Johnson remained in control and on a 2-2 count, Johnson struck out Castle swinging to get out of the inning.
Jennings put USC back in the lead 4-3 in the seventh with a one-out solo blast to deep centerfield, about 220 feet, for her second long ball of the game, eighth of the season. This also marked Jennings' second multi-homerun game of the season.
But the Tigers answered back in the bottom half as Leslie Klein, who led off with a single, eventually scored on an error to tie the game 4-4. With one out, LSU had runners at first and third. The Gamecocks' Kristin Hall made a play at the plate to throw out Delehoussaye at home and preserved the tie, then USC caught Tiger runner Wiese in a rundown for the final out, forcing extra innings for the second time during the day.
The eighth inning was quick as both teams went down in order. It was in the ninth that the Gamecocks finally pushed through. After Melissa Sandel struck out and Nancy Crane flied out, Jennings singled to left field to keep the inning alive. It was then that Cornett hit her fourth home run of the season, 14th career, to give the Gamecocks a two-run lead, 6-4.
In the bottom half of the inning, LSU continued to threaten. Klein led off with a single to the outfield and Delehoussaye followed with another single. The runners advance to second and third on a sacrifice out by Stephanie Hill. Wiese flew out to right field for the second out as Klein began to tag up from third and head home. Sandel was in right field and she made a heads up play as she threw directly to home, which allowed catcher Ashley Smith to make the play at the plate and end the game with USC winning 6-4 in a thrilling game.
SCHEDULE NOTE: Sunday's deciding game three has been moved from1 p.m. (EST) to Noon (EST). Fans can catch all of the Gamecock softball action live over the Internet at uscsports.com.
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