Stephenson's strong leadoff helps Alabama cruise to semis at NCAAs

Stephenson's strong leadoff helps Alabama cruise to semis at NCAAs

College

Stephenson's strong leadoff helps Alabama cruise to semis at NCAAs

STILLWATER, Okla. – Lauren Stephenson likes to play fast and set the pace. The Alabama junior was pleased that head coach Mic Potter placed her in the leadoff position and made quick work of Kent State star Pimnipa Panthong, turning in 4 up on the strength of four birdies. That early momentum rolled through the Tide’s lineup as Kent State went down in a flash at 4-1-0.

“I think we just got beat by a better team,” said Kent State coach Greg Robertson, who made note of Alabama’s three first-team All-Americans.

Stephenson pulled out of her U.S. Women’s Open qualifier on Wednesday to be more fresh for this event. Last year Stephenson made the cut at the Women’s Open, playing in front of President Donald Trump. The experience bolstered her confidence for the 2017-18 season.

Stephenson knows it doesn’t take much to turn things around. Frustrated by a closing 74 in stroke play at Karsten Creek, she tweaked her mindset for match play.

“Yesterday I was hoping that I would hit good shots,” she said, “instead of hitting good shots.”

Kristen Gillman sank a lengthy putt for par on the 17th hole to close out her match and end the quarterfinal session. The 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion downed Michaela Finn, 2 and 1.

Also notching points for the Tide: Cheyenne Knight and Angelica Moresco.

Alabama will face a young USC lineup after the Trojans defeated six-time NCAA champion Duke.

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