Sports teams start championship season

Lauren Roberts

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The school year is coming to a close but for the sports teams the postseason has just started. Tennis, golf, outdoor track and softball have made it into their respective championships.

Tennis

Courtney Anderson, freshman in education, returns the ball during the final regular season match against The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. The team would win 9-0. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Courtney Anderson, freshman in education, returns the ball during the final regular season match against The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. The team would win 9-0. Photo by Lauren Roberts

The women’s tennis team finished the regular season with a Lone Star Conference Championship. In the championship matches the team finished with a 5-0 win over Tarleton State University. The team is ranked 18 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and finished with a South Central Region record of 13-0. The NCAA Division II Regional Championships are May 3-6.

Lynn Scott, head tennis coach, said, “Last year we had a great team with great ladies on it and we built on that. They did a good job and built that tradition.”

In the NCAA DII regional selection the men and women both won home court advantage.

Scott said, “Fans make a difference and we really need great support this weekend.”

At this point in the regional tournaments MSU will be playing teams that also won their conference tournaments. The team will be playing stronger opponents.

Scott said, “Everyone is good. We have to be in the moment to work our way through situations better.”

The team has gotten a taste of the competition they will be facing when they played in Las Vegas March 18-20.

Scott said, “We understand what we need to do to move forward. It gives them perspective as players. Every match has its own challenge and we can’t look past an opponent.

The men finished the regular season ranked first in the South Central Region with a record of 11-0. The regional championships are May 3-6.

Scott said, “The ownership of position in the lineup has helped our play. Every position is valuable.”

In championships teams need to win five matches to advance.

“One of our strengths is that everybody comes ready to play. When you step out on that court you are prepared,” Scott said. “We’ll need to show up this weekend. The wins will take care of themselves. We put in the work and will put ourselves in a good position.”

The men do not have a Lone Star Conference Championship this year after losing to Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian University during the conference. There must be four teams to play a conference tournament and six to have an automatic bid into the regional tournament.

The men will play the winner of Colorado Mesa and St. Edwards on May 4 at 2 p.m. and the women will play Colorado Mesa at 9 a.m. May 3.

Golf

With a third place finish in the Lone Star Conference Championships, the men’s golf team will be heading to Austin, Texas for the NCAA DII Super Regional tournament May 5-7 at Grey Rock Country Club. The women’s golf team finished third in the LSC Championship and will go the Mansfield, Texas for the NCAA DII West Regional Championships May 5-7 at the Walnut Creek Country Club. Both teams finished sixth in the NCAA regional rankings.

In the LSC Championship in Horseshoe Bay, Texas the men went in as the favorites and the women were looking to overcome their youth to push past second place.

Jeff Ray, head golf coach, said, “Our inconsistency at the last tournament hurt us. We had a couple of kids that just didn’t play well. In golf that happens.”

The golf courses that teams play can affect the success that a team has at tournaments.

Brandon Banks, sophomore in business management, replaces his golf ball during practice at the Wichita Falls country club April 16. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Brandon Banks, sophomore in business management, replaces his golf ball during practice at the Wichita Falls country club April 16. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Ray said, “The golf course where we played the Lone Star Conference Tournament is not a great golf course for our men’s team. It was very tight and a lot of trouble. We have a couple of guys that hit the ball a long ways so that kind of takes that out. Not to make an excuse but it didn’t suit us particularity well.”

Before the teams leave for their regional tournaments, the men will focus hitting the fairways as opposed to hitting the ball for distance.

“I call it a target golf course, distance is important, but not as important as accuracy off the tee box. We are going to have to be patient, we’re going to have to keep the ball in play.” Ray said, “If you don’t keep the ball in the fairway where we’re going, you’re not going to play well. It’s very much like the golf course at the Lone Star Conference. It’s very punishing off the tee box if you miss fairways.”

The new format of the tournament also did not fit what the men are used to in the last two rounds. In the regional tournament the format returns to stroke play.

The woman did not finish how they wanted when they dropped to third place on the second day of the championship.

“We basically gave away second place,” Ray said. “The girls team we had trouble both rounds. We never had what I call a quality fourth score. You have to get four great scores and we didn’t get the quality fourth score either round. Hopefully at the regional tournament we will and will advance to the national tournament.”

At the regional tournament, the course the women will play at will be more open. Ray said they will be playing over 6,000 yards which is good for the team since they hit the ball long.

Ray said, “The key here again is getting the quality fourth score. When you get to this level this far in, you got to have four of your five play well every round. You can have one person that doesn’t but that’s all.”

The same five golfers for the men and women that went to the LSC will compete in regionals and into nationals. To advance to nationals the men have to finish in the top six out of 20 and the women have to finish in the top three out of nine teams in the super regionals to advance.

Softball

Katlyn Holmes, freshman in nursing, pitches at the final game of the regular season a day after pitching the fifth perfect game in MSU history against Tarleton State University. MSU won 8-1 April 26 at Mustangs Park. Holmes win/loss record 11-10. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Katlyn Holmes, freshman in nursing, pitches at the final game of the regular season a day after pitching the fifth perfect game in MSU history against Tarleton State University. MSU won 8-1 April 26 at Mustangs Park. Holmes win/loss record 11-10. Photo by Lauren Roberts

In the second game against Tarleton State, freshman pitcher Katlyn Holmes pitched a perfect game in five innings.

Head softball coach Brady Tigert said, “They’re growing, they’re maturing, they’re learning how to pitch instead of just throw. It’s a very long process and through the season they will go up and down and then after their freshman year in the summer they can get away from it and when they come back they’re so much better and more confident.”

Last weekend the team swept Tarleton State in the first two games ending with a five inning run rule.

Tigert said, “We’ve struggled quite a bit over the last month or so. Basically what went into that game was trying to relax and play the way we’re capable of. Instead of pressuring ourselves in practice we really lightened up the practices and started having a little bit more fun and started playing the game the way it should be played.”

Tigert said that the pressure the team put on themselves to improve did not help the situation.

“I think it put a domino effect of everybody putting pressure on themselves. Everybody was waiting to lead and do more than they were capable of doing and you just have to do what you can do. Everyone wanted to succeed so much that it made it worse.”

The team spent about a month on the road and struggled against Angelo State University, Texas Woman’s University and Cameron University. They narrowly avoided being sweep by Texas Woman’s by winning the last game and winning the first game against Cameron.

Tigert said, “The teams that we played are top 25 teams so you add that into the mix. There’s so many things that are involved into each game, which way the wind is blowing, what is the umpires zone going to be that day, there’s so many outside factors that go into it and its like in that month nothing lined up for us. You have to battle through them and we didn’t, we didn’t handle it well but we’re a lot better now. You learn from those things.”

In the first game of the Lone Star Conference Postseason Tournament, the team will again face Cameron.

“We know we are capable of beating them. We know all we have to do is play our game and have fun and play the way we should and then everything will fit into place.”

The team would go 12-0 and sweep the TexAnns at home. The softball team finished their regular season with a 28-21 record and are seeded fourth in the LSC tournament May 2-3 in Canyon, Texas.

Track

The track team will be competing in the Lone Star Conference Outdoor Track Championships May 2-4 in Kingsville, Texas.

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