Women's golfers second after first round of Banister Gamecock Classic

Freshmen Akin, Gough enjoy strong debuts

September 5, 2008 · MT Athletic Communications

GLENCOE, Ala. - Middle Tennessee opened with a 303 in the first round of the Chris Banister Gamecock Classic and stands in second, 15 shots behind first-place Chattanooga, entering Saturday's second round at Silver Lakes Golf Course.

The Blue Raiders opened up a five-shot advantage ahead of third-place Murray State and a six-shot lead on Sun Belt rival Western Kentucky, which is fourth.

Middle Tennessee's two freshmen made smashing debuts and, along with senior Leigh Wilkins, are among the tournament leaders and big reasons why the Blue Raiders are near the top of the leader board as a team.

Steph Gough shot a 2-over 74 and is tied for seventh in her first college round and fellow freshman Karisa Akin shot a 3-over 75 and is tied for 11th, along with Wilkins.

"Obviously I am very encouraged to have the two freshmen play as well as they did," Middle Tennessee second-year coach Chris Adams said. "Overall I am very pleased with the first day. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in terms of the leader but we have two days so maybe we can come back and close the gap Saturday. With the exception of Steph there's not one of us who can't say we couldn't improve just on a few doubles. If we can just eliminate the big number and take the bogey instead of a double or triple it can be even better. We just didn't finish as well as I would like but I'm still pleased and encouraged with our opening round."

There's good reason for encouragement. After inheriting the team between the fall and spring season last year Adams was looking forward to starting fresh with a roster that returns four players who saw action in 2007-08. Friday's 303 was the second-best under Adams and just one shot off the best round the Blue Raiders enjoyed last spring.

"We didn't have a lot of 303s last year so we are ahead of the curve," Adams said. "Although we had some good showings (Friday) we had players who were disappointed after their round because they know it could have been an even lower round for us. That's what I like to see."

Sophomore Morgan Hale is tied for 27th with a 7-over 79 and junior Clara Leathers is tied for 34th with a first-round 80. Senior Mallory Bishop, playing as an individual, is tied for 24th with a 78.

Gough is four shots of Chattanooga's Christine Wolf individual lead of 70. In fact, only three players were under par during the first round and all are members of Chattanooga's team, which shot par as team. Wikins and Akin are five shots off the individual lead.

The Chris Banister is a three-day, 54-hole event. The nine-team field will tee off for the second round Saturday afternoon before concluding with a Sunday morning round.

Chris Banister Gamecock Classic
Silver Lakes Golf Course, Glencoe, Ala.
First Round Team Scores

1 Chattanooga 288 E
2 Middle Tennessee 303 +15
3 Murray State 308 +20
T4 Western Kentucky 309 +21
T4 Southern Mississippi 309 +21
6 Jacksonville State 310 +22
7 Eastern Kentucky 314 +26
8 Florida Gulf Coast 315 +27
9 Northeastern State 321 +33
10 Austin Peay 322 +34

2 MT Scores (303)
T7 Steph Gough 38-36 74 +2
T11 Leigh Wilkins 37-38 75 +3
T11 Karisa Akin 36-39 75 +3
T27 Morgan Hale 41-38 79 +7
T34 Clara Leathers 39-41 80 +8
T24 Mallory Bishop 39-39 78 +6 *
* - playing as individual

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