Midwestern State's hopes of qualifying for the program's first NCAA Division II Regional may be bleak, but the Mustangs certainly increased the light at the end of the tunnel with a solid showing to open third in the opening round of the Lone Star Conference Championships Monday at the Par-71, 6,147-yard course at The Republic Golf Club.
Sophomore Kendra Whittley led the way by firing a 1-under 70 to stand third on the individual leader board to lead the Mustangs' to a third place team total of 303 (+19) after the first round.
"Kendra had a great round," MSU coach Jeff Ray said. "Today was a great day to score and she took advantage of it."
Whittley is just three strokes off the pace of tournament-leading Carla Cooper of Tarleton State. Cooper birdied three of the last four holes to polish off a 3-under 68 round and leapfrog Incarnate Word's Jessica Cornish (69/-2), Whittley and Texas A&M-Commerce's Chantry McMahan (70/-1).
Sister Kyla Whittley recorded her best round of the season to Par notching three birdies on her to a 5-over 76 to tie for 18th, while sophomores Lindsay Burkhart and Lauren Romines combined for 22 pars record rounds of 77 (+5) and 80 (+8) to tie for 20th and 32nd, respectively.
Sophomore Taylor Klutts struggled to her worst round of the spring carding a non-counting 83 (+12) to tie for 43rd.
"Taylor won't have two days in a row like she did today," Ray said. "She will give us a quality score tomorrow."
The Mustangs need a solid showing to move up from the 10th place position in last week's NCAA Division II South Central Rankings, as the top nine teams advance to the regional tournament to be held from May 1-3 at the Tascosa Country Club in Amarillo.
"Our only chance would be to finish and hope," Ray said. "And that may not do it. You just have to do the best you can."
The Lone Star Conference Championship continues with a second round Tuesday morning before closing with the final round on Wednesday.