Early Success on the Links

After bursting onto the scene her freshman year, Mississippi State sophomore golfer Ally McDonald recently claimed her first collegiate title at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.

"I've been in contention in a couple tournaments my freshman year and earlier this semester," said McDonald. "I was really pushing for my first win because I knew that God has given me the ability to do this, but it's like I had it set it my mind that I should win instead of I wanted to win. So in Las Vegas I just kind of shifted my mindset to if you perform like you should, then things will take care of themselves. Then, I came out with a share of my first collegiate title."

Mississippi State finished the tournament seventh out of seventeen teams, six of whom are ranked in the top 50 nationally. They have recorded a top ten finish in all four of their fall tournaments.

McDonald believes that wins like this are just the beginning for her and her team.

"I'm very thrilled to be a part of the team; we are moving in the correct direction and moving up several spots in the rankings," she said. "We are really young right now so we are building, so it's exciting to see the program go in the right direction."

McDonald, a high school standout, comes from the small town of Fulton, Mississippi where she was the first female to win the Mississippi boys' state championship. During the recruiting process, McDonald had a long connection with Mississippi State.

"In high school my family was all Mississippi State fans so I grew up coming to campus," she said. "I had looked strongly at Ole Miss, Arkansas, and South Carolina. My junior year I committed and Christy Sanders retired that year so we were in the process of changing coaches. Once I met Coach Ginger (Brown-Lemm) I really knew I was going to be at home and knew that she was about to take the program to the next level."

A combination of preparation, statistics, and recruiting seem to be working for Mississippi State women's golf. Head Coach Ginger Brown-Lemm looks to be building a strong foundation with her current squad.

"The coaches do a really good job of keeping up with stats; we go back and focus on what we did well and what we could do better," said McDonald. "We are really working hard on making our stats match up with the best in the nation. Our up and downs have increased by 20 percent from last year.

"I think the drills that we do and the coaches' mentality and philosophy work hand in hand with all the players. Coach (Brown-Lemm) does a really good job of pointing us in the right direction and focusing on what we need to work on, but she also gives us time to work on what we see and what we feel we need to work on."

Even though the fall season is over, McDonald continues to work on improving her game. She feels that what she does in the off-season is crucial in transitioning her performance to the spring.

"Most people say champions are made in the off-season" said McDonald. "People normally decide to put down their clubs for a while and take a break, but I think during the off-season it's very important to stay up on things with your body and really nail down some mechanical things."

McDonald can already sense the excitement for the initial spring tournament as the Lady Bulldogs travel to Arizona. She looks to build off of her Las Vegas win and hopes that it will come in handy later on in her career.

"It should give me a little bit more confidence now that I have been in the situation and that I know how to handle it," she said. "Things are really starting to come together; the team is starting to realize we can be one of the best teams in the nation if we keep pushing. We have to stay focused on what we can control and not worry about what anyone else is doing."

Carew Ferguson is a feature writer for the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing carewferguson@att.net.

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