STARKVILLE, Miss. - Five days removed from its season-best second-place finish, the Mississippi State women's golf team is set to tee off in the talent-packed SunTrust Gator Invitational hosted at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville.
Facing four of the nation's top six teams, the Lady Bulldogs will look to continue their stellar play that concluded the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational just a week ago. Behind a season-best 293 in the final round, MSU carded an 891 en route to a runner-up finish.
"It was exciting to see this young team grow and mature last weekend right in front of our eyes," third-year MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "We didn't play as well as we could have the first round but overcame that by the final round for an outstanding tournament. If the girls keep playing like that this weekend, we can show everyone what is in store for golf at Mississippi State."
State will battle No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Florida and No. 6 North Carolina from the Top 10 alone. Other Top 50 teams include No. 15 Virginia, No. 18 Baylor, No. 21 Oklahoma State, No. 42 Florida International and No. 49 Florida State. Teams just outside the Top 50 are Chattanooga, Kent State, Miami, San Diego State and South Florida.
"This is one of the toughest fields we will see all season before the SEC Tournament," Brown-Lemm said. "Nine teams are ranked and a few more are just outside. We've climbed from 130 to 61 in just two recruiting classes. If we focus on our game and play one shot at a time, we can show we belong in that Top 50 as well."
Sophomore Ally McDonald again claims the No. 1 spot in the MSU lineup after her runner-up, 1-under-par 215 in the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational just a week ago. It was the sophomore's second Top 3 finish in his last three events and vaulted her to the SEC's fifth-best scoring average at 72.39.
Fellow sophomore Rica Tse used a final-round 1-under-par 71 to clinch her fourth Top 25 card of the season last weekend. She enters the event with the Lady Bulldogs' second-best scoring average (75.11) and is 10th in the SEC among underclassmen.
MSU's only junior, Mary Langdon Gallagher narrowly missed the Top 25 in the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational after she chiseled four strokes off her opening-round tally to post a 2-over-par 74 for the final round.
Freshman Gabi Oubre' and sophomore Elena Warren round out the lineup. Oubre' has seen the most action of any newcomer this season, appearing in all six events with a 76.94 scoring clip. Warren has appeared in the last three straight events coming into Gainesville and sits just behind Oubre' with a 78.67 average.
First-round action is set to begin at 8 a.m. CST Friday with the Lady Bulldogs teeing off alongside Chattanooga and Florida International at 9:30 CST.
Live stats and post-round results will be available through Hailstate.com
Fans can also follow the women's golf program through Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG and on Twitter at @mstateWG.