By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
AUSTIN - A birdie on hole No. 3 turned Morgan Rogers' day around.
Carmen Gonzales chipped her way to finish among the front runners.
Now, all the Lampasas Lady Badgers need is a little luck to catch defending state champion Andrews at the 3A state golf tournament at Jimmy Clay Golf Course.
"They're a great team, they're going to be hard to catch," Lampasas girls golf coach Stuart Beckwith said. "We're just going to, No. 1, have our kids play up to what they normally do and, No. 2, we're going to have to get a little lucky.
"We're going to have to hope Andrews shoots a little higher than 316 and that we can shoot quite a bit lower than what we shot today."
Gonzales, a senior, finished the first round Thursday tied for third with a 78, two shots behind leader Sarah Black of Andrews. Rogers shot a 79 and is tied for fifth.
The Lady Badgers, as a team, shot a 333, 17 strokes behind leader and defending champion Andrews (316).
Lampasas senior Juls Crook, the defending Region IV-3A champion, and Lauren Beckwith both shot 89s and Kena Cox fired an 87.
Rogers, after opening with probably the best shot off the tee she's ever hit, was soon bogged down in nerves.
The sophomore doubled No. 1 and bogeyed No. 2 before her birdie on No. 3 saved the day.
"My drive went a little too far left, but then I hit an amazing shot, stuck it about three or four feet by the pin and got my first birdie of the day. ... That made me feel a lot better," Rogers said. "The first hole didn't go how I planned, but sooner or later, everything started clicking and I couldn't be happier that I shot what I did."
Gonzales and Andrew's Whitlee Woods both shot 78s and are tied for third. Carthage's Courtynd Miller is second after shooting a first-round 77. Black beat Salado's Taylor O'Rear in a one-hole playoff for the individual title last year.
"I shot 41 on the front side and 37 on the other. Obviously, I played not very good on the front side," Gonzales said. "I was disappointed in my first four holes and then I started playing a lot better."
Katy Colson shot an 83 to lead the fourth-place Gatesville girls, who are making their second straight state tournament appearance. The Hornets are just four strokes behind third-place Prosper (349) after finishing sixth last year.
"You hope that they see the opportunity in front of them and come out and seize the opportunity that's there," Gatesville coach Guy Dean said. "That's the one thing we've talked about is standing on the medal stand. That's one thing they would like to do and I think it's close."
Freshman Zane Washburn led the Gatesville boys, who are making their first appearance at the state meet since placing second in 2010.
The Hornets are sixth overall with 326 points, 23 strokes behind leader and defending champion Prosper (303).
"Zane has played really solid all year," Dean said. "He's been very, very consistent. This is his best tournament round of the year and to do it under these circumstances makes it even more special."
Medalists Kraig Zimmerhall, from Smithville, and Madisonville's Marcus Bennett both shot 1-under 71s to lead the boys. Washburn is sixth with his 74. Argyle is second after firing a team score of 309 and Fredericksburg is third at 311.
"Your top teams, they're up there for a reason," Dean said. "They've got good experience, those kids have been here, they've stood on the medal stand and you've just got to be hungry enough to want to be there more than they do."
Blake Graham and Blake January both fired 80s to lead the seventh-place Badgers, who are making their second straight trip.
As a team, Lampasas shot a 329 and is just three strokes behind Gatesville and four shots behind fifth-place Big Spring (325).