Following another strong performance, No. 44 Ally McDonald notched a career-best 36-hole score of 139 to pace the Mississippi State women's golf team to a season-best 588 in the M&F Bank Rebel Intercollegiate. The Lady Bulldogs are sixth heading into Sunday's final round at the Ole Miss Golf Course.
McDonald followed her career-best first-round 68 with a 1-under-par 71 in the second round. Her 36-hole 139 earns her a third-place sitting, just three shots back of first-place No. 13 Hayley Davis (Baylor).
The sophomore's 5-under-par 139 not only set her career-best two-round tally, but also ranks as the second-best 36-hole card in MSU history.
"Ally is playing very well and has the ability to get her second win tomorrow," third-year MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "She knows the course, has the experience and is only three shots out. She wants it and will go out tomorrow with laser focus."
After posting a program second-best 289 Friday, MSU notched an 11-over-par 299 Saturday.
MSU leads three SEC teams entering the final round. Ole Miss owns a 16-over-par 592 and is in seventh-place, while 34th-ranked Kentucky is in eighth at 17-over. Missouri finds itself in 10th after a 27-over-par 603.
"Our second-round woes continued today but we played well enough to give ourselves a chance to move up the leaderboard tomorrow," Brown-Lemm said. "We are playing some of our best golf this season, but we still have room for improvement and that is what makes this exciting. Dropping 12 shots as a team on numbers nine, 17 and 18 hurt because we were 11-over for the day. We have come so far to be disappointed with a 299, I am proud and excited for our future."
No. 49 Coastal Carolina posted a 1-over-par 289 Saturday to extend its lead over the tournament field to six strokes. No. 20 Tulane is second with a 3-over-par 579, while 24th-ranked Baylor is third with a 582.
Final-round action will begin with an 8 a.m. CST shotgun Sunday with the Lady Bulldogs slated to tee off alongside LSU and East Tennessee State on holes No. 4 through 6.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the women's golf program on Twitter, @mstateWG, and on Facebook at facebook.com/mstateWG.
Mississippi State held its biggest lead against Florida in over five years, but couldn't hold on Saturday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, falling by a score of 4-2 after a grand slam by the Gators' Jessica Damico in the bottom of the sixth. The Maroon and White dropped to 23-14 overall and 2-9 inside the rugged Southeastern Conference, while No. 3 UF improved to 37-3 overall and 12-2 in conference play.
"Last night was two timely hits, and today was one timely hit for the Gators," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman. "Florida was able to pull it out."
The Bulldogs held a 2-0 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth, their biggest lead against the Orange and Blue since a similar 2-0 lead in Starkville on April 5, 2008. State right-hander starter Alison Owen started the bottom of the stanza with a hit by pitch, and followed it up with two-consecutive walks. Up next at the plate was Florida's nine-hole hitter, Damico, who on a 1-1 count sailed a sky-high home run just over the outstretched glove of MSU left fielder Jessica Offutt at the wall for the game-winning hit.
Before the sixth inning, Owen was masterful for the Bulldogs inside the circle, shutting out the No. 6 scoring offense in the country and giving up just three hits. The righty, who fell to 12-6 on the year, ended up fanning seven UF batters total.
"Give credit to Alison Owen for throwing another great game," Stuedeman explained. "She looked great out there. It's going to happen for her, and she just has to keep pumping, because the well is going to fill up soon."
State plated its first run of the game when Offutt singled to the hot corner to lead off the third inning. After stealing second, the Madison, Ala., speedster scored on a two-out double down the left-field line by junior Logan Foulks. The Bulldogs doubled their lead in the fourth thanks to a defensive miscue by UF on a sacrifice bunt by senior Shelby Fisher. With redshirt sophomore Briana Bell sprinting to third on the bunt, the Florida first baseman mishandled a throw from third, causing the ball to roll into right field, allowing Bell to score.
Overall at the dish, MSU finished with six hits on the day, one shy of the Bulldogs' total in the three previous games against UF under Stuedeman the last two seasons. Offutt (2-for-3, run, stolen base) and junior catcher Sam Lenahan (2-for-4) both had multiple-hit games, while Foulks (1-for-3, RBI) and Bell (1-for-3, run) also tallied hits.
"Jessica looked very poised and under control out there and was on base twice for us," Stuedeman said. "It is huge any time you can turn the lineup over like that."
Starkville's Team heads back to the diamond in Gainesville for the series finale Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. Free live audio streaming of the series will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive). For live in-game updates of MSU's Sunday contest in Gainesville, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.
Elisabeth Sullivan had a hand in three of Mississippi State's four second-period goals Saturday afternoon as the Bulldogs posted a shutout victory against Jackson State at the MSU Soccer Field.
Sullivan scored the game's opening goal nine minutes into the second period before assisting on two more scores.
After failing to convert on four on-goal chances in the first period, the Bulldogs shook off the rust from a one-month layoff between matches and found Sullivan for a breakaway opportunity that she deposited from just inside 18-yard box.
"The toughest thing for us is that we haven't played in a month, so it took us 25 minutes to get back in that rhythm of playing an opponent and not ourselves," Gordon said. "After that opening 25 minutes we settled down and scored four really good goals."
Six minutes later, Sullivan flicked a ball past the Jackson State back line that found Shannon Palmer for the goal that put MSU in front 2-0.
"This was our second game with a couple of our kids playing new roles that they are trying to learn," Gordon said. "The staff and team are still trying to feel each other out. Doing it in training is one thing, but seeing it in a game gives us a different type of assessment.
"Watching Elisabeth (Sullivan) score was a bright spot. It's something she does well, and it's something we will have to count. Shannon Palmer is getting opportunities she might not have had in the fall due to injury, and she's also been a bright spot this spring. I thought our coordination on defense was good today as well."
One of those defenders, Shelby Jordan, gave Mississippi State the 3-0 advantage with 7:30 left as she took the ball and made a brilliant run through the defense before beating the keeper with a shot to the right post.
The Bulldogs added the final strike 32 seconds later. Sullivan dribbled to the end line and sent a cross right to Dana Forbes for the header that put MSU in front 4-0.
State's defense dominated the action, preventing the Tigers from getting a shot on target at MSU goalie CJ Winship.
MSU dominated possession and ended the 75-minute contest with 13 chances on goal and seven corner kicks.
Gordon's squad returns to action Thursday, traveling to Tupelo to face Memphis at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs head to Jackson two days later to face Northwestern State at 1:30 p.m. That contest will be played at either Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland or the Jackson Futbol Club (2240 Westbrook Road in Jackson).
Mississippi State wraps the spring slate April 20, hosting Southern Miss at 11:30 a.m. as part of Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions Bank.
After 39 years of waiting, the Mississippi State men's golf team will finally host a home tournament with the upcoming Old Waverly Collegiate Championship on April 8-9.
The Old Waverly Golf Course, near West Point, Miss., will serve as the backdrop for the MSU-hosted tourney. The No. 28 Bulldogs will be joined at Old Waverly by Arkansas State, Cincinnati, Georgia State, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, Rice, No. 48 South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Miss and UAB.
"It's exciting to finally host our first collegiate home tournament on Monday and Tuesday," Coach Clay Homan said. "Old Waverly will prove to be a great host and I know all the teams will leave with a positive experience. We want to encourage all of our fans to come out and see our team play."
On Monday, the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship will begin with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. Two rounds will be played on the opening day from West Point. Tuesday will conclude with an 8 a.m. final round from the par-72, 7,088 yard course.
Last time out, the Bulldogs dominated the field at the Ole Miss-hosted BancorpSouth Intercollegiate. Homan's squad won by 15 strokes over second-place Central Arkansas to coast to their third victory of the season, making it the most wins since the 1998-1999 season.
The Bulldogs have also excelled on the individual stage as well, picking up two SEC Player of the Week honors for juniors Chad Ramey and Axel Boasson. MSU has won the title five times in its history; two have come from the last month.
The Old Waverly Collegiate Championship will see seven Bulldogs looking to add more hardware to the 2012-2013 treasure trove. The junior trio of Ramey, Joe Sakulpolphaisan and Boasson will go 1-3 for State at Old Waverly, followed by senior Robi Calvesbert and junior Barrett Edens. Freshman Ben Wood and sophomore Fletcher Johnson will compete as individuals.
After finishing with an eighth-place performance in Madison, Ramey picked up his sixth Top 10 of the season, which is most on the team. The Fulton, Miss., native's 72.06 stroke average is on pace for the third-lowest in MSU history.
Coming off back-to-back Top 5s, Thailand native Sakulpolphaisan is on fire. The junior has finished within the Top 25 in nine of the 10 tournaments this season. Sakulpolphaisan is also just behind teammates Boasson and Ramey in stroke average at 72.66, if the average holds it would be the seventh-lowest in school history.
Boasson is also red hot coming into the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship. The Iceland native has posted four-consecutive Top-15 cards, which led to the junior being named last week's SEC Player of the Week. Boasson boasts the best stroke average on the team at 72.03, which is on pace for third-lowest in the history books.
Rounding out the Maroon and White lineup from Old Waverly will be Calvesbert and Edens. Calvesbert just posted his sixth Top 25 of the season after finishing tied for 19th at the BancorpSouth Intercollegiate. Edens finished tied for 32nd in his fourth event played last week.
Bulldogs Wood and Johnson will be playing at Old Waverly as individuals. Wood has played in two events this season. His best performance as a Bulldog came in the Mobile Bay individual tournament, finishing with a 16th place card. Johnson has played in five tournaments this season.
MSU will tee off at 8:30 in the first group from Old Waverly.
Admission to all rounds is free. Fans can enter Old Waverly Golf Club through the Main Gate on Old Waverly Road and can access the designated parking areas for spectators by following signs.
Live stats will be available through HailState.com. Fans can also follow the men's golf program through Facebook at facebook.com/mstateMG and on Twitter at @mstateMG.