GERMANTOWN, TN – Head coach Robbie Davis has more freshmen than seniors in his lineup at this year's NCAA Division II South Super Regional, and it was one of each that led Florida Southern in scoring in the first round of that tournament on Monday. The freshman was Shelby Lewis and the senior was Abbey Williams, with each shooting a five-over par 77 to help the Moccasins end the day tied for fifth place.
Florida Southern, which is ranked No. 8 nationally, also received a pair of 78s from junior Tori Higgins and sophomore Amanda Gartrell, while freshman Ashley Zagers shot an 81 as the Mocs' non-counter. That added up to a 310 (+22) that put the Moccasins seven shots out of third, the position they need to be in for advancement to the Division II National Finals. Top-ranked Nova Southeastern holds the lead with a 296 (+8), but only by one shot over No. 5 Barry, with No. 10 Rollins sitting in third and seven shots off the pace.
The Moccasins' opening round could best be described as going in fits and starts on a course Davis earlier described as tight. Higgins was their only golfer who played more than four consecutive holes without a bogey, going nine straight from No. 2 to No. 10, at which point she was even. The same could be said for almost every other team outside of the top three, and the Moccasins' team total of 59 birdies and pars was only two fewer than Barry had, and the Buccaneers were in second place. Nova Southeastern, however, had 73 such holes with all five golfers at 75 or better.
Williams and Lewis both made the turn at +3, and both were +2 on the back nine, but their hole-by-hole scoring was vastly different. After identical scores through the first three holes, nine of their final 15 were different from each other with their six in common all pars. Lewis also had one birdie, which came on the par-3 No. 12 covering 115 yards. The Moccasins' other three counters, however, bogeyed that hole. Down the stretch though, Williams was the Mocs' best performer by parring five of her final six holes and seven of the last nine. That left Williams and Lewis tied for 21st.
Higgins was the team leader on the front nine with a 36, a score bettered by only four other golfers in the field of 66. After she bogeyed No. 1, Higgins parred the next four before a birdie on the par-5 No. 6. She then strung together four more pars but ran into trouble on another par-5 when she tripled 11. That pushed her to three-over before she finished at +6.
Gartrell was the only Moccasin to birdie her first hole and made the turn at +1. She was still at +1 after 11, but a bogey on 12 and double-bogey on 13 sent her in the wrong direction and contributed to her +5 on the back nine and gave her a 78 that tied her with Higgins for 30th place.
Zagers will look to regroup on Tuesday after tying for 46th with her 81.
Barry's Tilda Larsson leads the individual race with a four-under-par 68, helped significantly by an eagle on No. 9, one of two eagles in the tournament Monday. She has a two-stroke lead over individual qualifiers Kiira Riihijarvi of Tampa and Paloma Vaccaro of West Florida. They are the only three golfers who broke par on Monday.
The Moccasins will be playing round two with Lynn and Lenoir-Rhyne, the two teams with which they are tied, as all three are attempting to close the seven-shot gap between themselves and Rollins, which holds the third-place position needed to advance. Tee times for Florida Southern begin at 8:30 a.m. Central/9:30 Eastern.