Currently, your freshmen are ranked 5th in the nation in the Golfstat.com's Freshman Impact Rankings. Explain what that ranking mean.
"It is determined by the impact of the freshmen on your team, where they were ranked coming in and how they contribute to your team. They are re-ranked (throughout the season) based on their impact on your team. We have six players on our team but one is out with a medical issue. So, we have five that can play and three of those are freshmen. And they are making that much of a difference."
Playing three freshman against a top-40 schedule has to bode well for the future.
"It helps a lot. These girls are playing the 40th hardest schedule in the country and against the top-20 programs. They have to handle the mental aspects of playing against the seasoned seniors and juniors that play at Florida and Alabama."
Considering they have continued to improve while playing such a tough schedule, that has to say a lot about their mental toughness.
"We hope so. But they are human and they are freshmen. And as a coach I would be remiss if I didn't see the shots they missed, the mistakes and the mental errors they made. We talk about that constantly. I'll ask them what they were thinking when they mis-hit a shot? I'll ask them if they stuck to their process? Did they visualize the shot? There are a lot of things to factor in. The day we shot 289 in Oxford just recently I know that I saw 5 to 8 shots that we just threw away. And that day we had a 69, a 72, a 73 and a 76. That was brilliant but a 284 would have been that much better. But I wouldn't be a good coach if I didn't get excited about what we could do and what we will be doing in the future."
What was your thought process on setting up such a tough schedule with so many freshmen playing?
"(Laugh) I can't help it. I want to play the best teams in the nation and see where we wind up. And it will help these girls get better. They are competitive and they play in the biggest tournaments in the world before they even get here. So, having an easy schedule and having three tournament wins doesn't mean anything to them. I want to play the best teams in the nation and see where we can compete and see how we can get better. I want us to get better every year. We are in the best conference in America and I don't want us to just be a participant. I want us to be a competitor in it."
Ally McDonald, who just had to top-10 finishes in back-to-back tournaments, is one of the top freshmen in the nation. How good do you believe she can be during her career at MSU and what do you see in her future, golf-wise?
"Right now, she is among the top 60 in Women's Collegiate Golf. She is probably going to qualify to represent Mississippi State in the NCAA Regional competition as an individual, which was our goal (for her). She will probably be an All-SEC player. She has a 73.1 scoring average at the moment. I anticipate her playing better every single year because she wants it very badly. She wants to win a tournament and she has been top 5 several times this spring. She will be as good as she wants to be and her level of dedication is what you want from every player. After college, I fully expect her to have a great impact on the LPGA."
A 73.1 scoring average is pretty good. How close is that to being number 1?
"It is good. I believe the number 1 player has a score of 70.8. So, you are talking about not that far to go. And I would say that the only bad event that she has had was the very first one out of the box. It was at the University of Kentucky last September and it was in the worst weather, the wind was blowing 30 miles per hour. I believe she had rounds of 77, 77 and 82. If not for that situation she would be at the top of the heat. But that is why they have a scoring average."
As a freshman, she is only a couple of strokes behind the nation's leader. That is really good for a freshman. There is no telling how good she can become.
"She is good. She has the work ethic and the skills to be as good as she wants to be."
What does she need to improve on?
"Her (drive) length is superior. I would say her improvement will come from putting, pitching and chipping, just like with anyone else. Now that we have our practice facility that can be worked on everyday."
Team-wise, you have made a fairly significant ranking jump since you got here less than two years ago, haven't you?
"We have. We were 130th when we got here, now we are in the 80s."
You have moved from middle of the pack in the nation to being among the top 3rd in the country. And you are doing that with three freshmen in your starting lineup. They will only get better. What are your expectations for the next couple of years team-wise?
"Top 30 would be a reasonable expectation based on the people that I have and the people that I have coming in and the ones I anticipate bringing in in 2013.
"I can't wait for that. It's only about getting better. And now that we have the facilities that allows us to correct our weaknesses. It's all in the daily preparations. You train just like you compete."
The Lady Bulldogs will conclude the 2011-12 season on April 20-22 at the SEC Championship in Fayetteville, Ark.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.