The 18-and-under Merchants fast-pitch softball team picked up two wins to reach the round of 16 at a tournament in Columbia, S.C., June 23 to 27, but the final games had to be canceled because of rain. Sixty-four teams attended the tournament, and 90 different college coaches were there to scout the players.

Paced by stingy defense and pitching, the Merchants squad won two low-scoring games at the tournament, as well as two of three exhibition games that all turned into pitchers' duels.

In the first round of single elimination Saturday morning, the Merchants' Janice Savage hit a two-out single to score Melinda Huseman in the top of the eighth inning to give her team a 2-1 victory over the Clearwater (Fla.) Bullets.

The pitching of Shana Riggleman -- whose only run allowed came on a passed ball in the third inning -- was a key to the victory.

Patty Brown's double in the sixth drove in Nikki Jones to tie the game.

Sunday morning, the Merchants defeated the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Classics, 2-1.

The Merchants scored both their runs in the first inning. Kristie Pickeral doubled to bring in a run and Savage brought in the other with a base hit.

Huseman also had a nice game at the plate. Savage and Devin Karcesky shared pitching duties.

The Southern Maryland team also played in three exhibition games while in South Carolina.

In the first exhibition game, on Thursday night, the Merchants edged the Carolina (N.C.) Cardinals, 2-1, with help from the bats of Jones, Amanda Blizzard, Jeni Cox, Gretchen Karcesky and Jamie Schnieder.

The second exhibition game, on Friday, was a hard-fought battle with the West Virginia Dusters that ended in a 1-1 tie. Erin Waltersdorff and Schnieder provided solid defense while Devin Karcesky and Riggleman shared the mound. Karcesky allowed one hit and Riggleman allowed two.

The Merchants defeated the Triangle (N.C.) Patriots, 1-0, in the third exhibition. Kim Ogden had a good game at the plate and Savage held the Patriots to only two hits.

Because of rain, the Merchants did not face the Rockdale (Ga.) Jaguars for the fourth exhibition game.

The day before the tournament started, a recruiting camp was held, which six Merchants players attended. The camp allowed college coaches to get a close look at high school prospects.

CAPTION: Melinda Huseman and the Merchants won their first two games in the South Carolina tournament but rain washed out the rest.

CAPTION: Jeni Cox provided some of the offensive punch for the Merchants at the tournament.