CLEVELAND, TENN. – On the second day of the NCAA Division II South Region Women's Golf Tournament, Florida Southern fell four spots but the 13th-ranked Moccasins are still in the running for a spot in the national finals. The Mocs will head into the final round of the regional tournament in eighth place, needing to make up seven shots in the standings to have a chance for advancement.
The Moccasins were led Tuesday by Amanda Gartrell's 74, while Madi Wetzel shot a 76, and Loren Perez had a 77. Tori Higgins was the Mocs' fourth counter with an 80. Shelby Lewis, who had tied Higgins for the Mocs' best score in round one, was their fifth golfer in round two with an 84. That gave Florida Southern a team score of 307 for the day and a 605 (+29) for the tournament.
After five teams broke 300 on Monday, five did so again on Tuesday, but Saint Leo and Limestone were the only ones that did so in both rounds. Even so, Saint Leo and Limestone are second and third respectively in the team standings, trailing Lynn, which jumped from sixth place up to first with a 290 (+2) that was the best at the South Regional in four years. The 7th-ranked Knights are now at +15 overall, three shots ahead of No. 17 Saint Leo, and six in front of No. 11 Limestone. Top-ranked Barry occupies the all-important fourth spot at +22, putting the Buccaneers seven shots behind the Knights.
The top four teams will move on to next week's national championship tournament along with the top four individuals not with one of those teams. While the Moccasins are seven shots away from an advancing spot as a team, Gartrell is only one back of the current cut-off for an individual.
With the Moccasins starting the day on hole one, Gartrell made the turn at +3 and bogeyed the par-5 No. 10 to start the back nine. From that point on, however, the junior was two-under with birdies on 15 and 17. Finishing the round with a 74, Gartrell basically held her place in the individual standings where she is now tied for 14th, but in the process, moved into better position to claim her own spot in the national finals regardless of the team standings.
Now at 149 (+5) for the tournament, Gartrell has five golfers in front of her who are in those positions now, but none of them are more than two strokes ahead. Many of those spots could still change hands though depending on the team standings with No. 5 Florida Tech, No. 3 Nova Southeastern, and No. 19 Tampa all within six shots of fourth-place Barry. It leaves an even murkier situation for Wednesday's final round.
Like Gartrell, Wetzel had three bogeys on the front nine Tuesday morning but turned in a solid back nine with a birdie or par on eight of nine holes. That gives Wetzel a total score of 151 (+7) and has her tied for 22nd.
Perez had Florida Southern's best score on the front nine at +1, keeping the Moccasins afloat until the rest of the team got going on the back. She matched her Monday score with another 77 that moved her up to a tie for 31st.
Higgins was another of the Moccasin golfers who came back from a slow start to play well during the second half of the round. Though she birdied No. 2 to start the day one-under, Higgins was six-over by the time she made the turn. She was four shots better on the back nine, however, and her total score of 154 (+10) has her tied with Perez for 31st.
Lewis, meanwhile, is tied for 53rd with a 158 (+14), but slashed her second round score in half over the final nine holes.
The final round at Cleveland Country Club begins Wednesday morning at 8:30, and Florida Southern will be in the first wave going off No. 10.