February 11, 2011 9:16:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State''s men''s golf team''s fall standouts will make the trip Saturday for the Gator Invitational.
Chad Ramey, the Bulldogs'' low-scorer from the fall, and third low-scorer Brad Mason have struggled through five rounds of team qualifying, coach Clay Homan said Thursday.
Ramey was the only Bulldog to average less than 72 strokes for 18 rounds in five tournaments in the fall. He and Mason were the only players to compete in all five events.
"Both of those guys will get back in the lineup, I''m confident in that," Homan said. "They have the ability to shoot in the 60s, but when they''re playing good is when they give us that."
John Darden and Evan Hugall, who didn''t play in the fall, will replace Ramey and Mason in the lineup.
Homan said Darden and Hugall have shot more scores around par after shooting between 75 and 76 in the fall.
"Their improvement from the fall has been tremendous," Homan said. "They''re ball striking has improved, but I think the biggest thing has been their scoring around the greens."
Homan said Darden, a sophomore, and Hugell, a senior transfer, are examples of MSU''s evolution from a young team to a confident team.
"I think we''re starting to get over that hump," Homan said. "I want to see more maturity and confidence (at Gainesville). We can''t be nervous or affected by the situation. We''ll start to get a little bit more swagger when they start getting more rounds."
Robi Calvesbert, Chad Heaton, and Alex Rowland also will make the trip to Florida. Homan said Rowland earned a spot through team qualifying, while he picked Heaton and Calvesbert based on anticipated performance.
MSU will face Southeastern Conference teams and top-20 teams Florida, LSU, and Auburn at the Gator Invitational.
---Batson, Thornton pacing women''s golf team
It''s natural for coaches to lean on seniors.
They''re the longest-tenured players on the team and the most mature.
Inheriting seniors doesn''t always guarantee that luxury, but first-year MSU women''s golf coach Ginger Brown-Lemm couldn''t be more excited about the play of seniors Mallory Batson and Erika Thornton.
In the fall, MSU moved up 35 spots in the national rankings and is 96th, according to Golfweekrankings.com. Batson earned two top-10 finishes, while Thornton took second at the Memphis Women''s Invitational.
Each had a round below par to help MSU shoot an 883 at the Price''s Give ''Em Five Invitational. The score was the second-lowest 54-hole total in program history.
"They''re motivated and inspired," Brown-Lemm said. "You get the sense that they want it badly for Mississippi State. You can see it in how they lead."
Brown-Lemm hopes a "disproportionate" amount of attention to shots within 50 yards of the cup with her two seniors will lead to more movement up the rankings.
Batson and Thornton each average more than 34 putts a round. Brown-Lemm would like to see 31.
She credits their form to working with SAM PuttLab, a computer-based training system.
"Incredible information and graphics," Brown-Lemm said. "I''m a very visual person, and so are they. Erika''s already cut two shots off hers, and Mallory cut three off. It shows they''re doing the work with that information."
Freshman Esther Huffman has the third-lowest average. Mary Langdon Gallagher is a stroke behind Huffman.
MSU will play Feb. 27 at the Sir Pizza Cards Challenge in Weston Hills, Fla.
---Lady Bulldogs tennis opens home slate today
MSU will return to action at 2 p.m. today when it plays host to Georgia State indoors in McCarthy Gym.
"I am excited about our first home match this season" MSU coach Daryl Greenan said. "We have been working extremely hard to get the girls ready for good competition, and Georgia State will be a solid test for us this weekend."
In their spring opening matches, MSU (0-2) lost to the University of Tulsa 7-0 and to Oklahoma State 6-1. Freshman Alexandra Perper competed in the top spot of both matches, and defeated OSU''s Sarah Meghoufel 6-4, 6-3.
The Lady Bulldogs have used three freshmen in their first two matches. Perper, Roseline Dion, and Vivian Pietraroia make up the trio that has shown promise.
MSU will play host to Southern Miss and Troy State next Saturday and Sunday. Admission to all Mississippi State home matches is free.
MSU athletics media relations contributed to this story.