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April 14, 2006

Nashville, Tenn. – South Carolina is in ninth place after Friday’s first round of the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship with a 22-over-par 310, which puts them 10 strokes behind tournament-leader Auburn. A pair of Gamecocks sit in the top 10 on the individual leader board, as junior Jenna Pearson and sophomore Whitney Simons fired identical three-over-par 75s to sit just three strokes behind the tournament leaders.

With a field dotted by some of the nation’s top players, nobody shot under par at the par-72 Vanderbilt Legends Club Friday due to strong sustained winds that lasted throughout the day.

“We are definitely in the hunt,” Head Coach Kristi Coggins said. “We gave some shots back today and we made some mistakes on own, but we’re still confident and feel like we can still make a push in the next couple rounds. Everybody played in some tough conditions out there. It was very windy, but still playable. On a day like this, you just want to stay in it. We hit some great shots today, but just weren’t rewarded. I think as the wind settles down, scores will continue to drop.”

Pearson picked up a birdie on the par-five fourth hole, but kept a steady hand for the majority of the day to pick up 13 pars. Simons overcame an early double-bogey and birdied the par-three 16th hole. Her day was similar to Pearson’s in that she posted 14 pars during the round to stay in the hunt.

After a solid showing on her first nine holes in which she posted seven pars and only two bogeys, things got a little tougher on the back nine for senior Erica Battle, who slipped five strokes down the stretch despite a birdie on the course’s par-five seventh hole. She finished the first round tied for 41st at seven over. Battle, however, has demonstrated throughout the Spring season that she fires lower scores as the tournament goes on and could make a move in Saturday’s second round.

Sophomores Laura Raffo and Blythe Worley were also in action for Carolina, with Raffo tied for 48th at nine over par and Worley 56th at 12 over.

Second round action resumes tomorrow.

Team Leader Board
1. Auburn: 300 (+12)
T2. Tennessee: 301 (+13)
T2. Georgia: 301 (+13)
4. LSU: 302 (+14)
5. Vanderbilt: 303 (+15)
6. Arkansas: 304 (+16)
7. Alabama: 307 (+19)
8. Florida: 308 (+20)
9. South Carolina: 310 (+22)
10. Kentucky: 315 (+27)
11. Ole Miss: 318 (+30)
12. Mississippi State: 321 (+33)

Gamecocks on the Individual Leader Board
T10. Jenna Pearson: 75 (+3)
T10. Whitney Simons: 75 (+3)
T41. Erica Battle: 79 (+7)
T48. Laura Raffo: 81 (+9)
56. Blythe Worley: 84 (+12)