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Playing Close to home leaves Belles confident

Anna Fricano | Wednesday, April 13, 2005

After a respectable but somewhat disappointing finish at the Tri-State University Invitational on Saturday, the Belles will remain close to home today as they compete at Bethel College for the NAIA-NCAA Invite. The team finished in third place overall at Tri-State with a team score of 337. Senior Stefanie Simmerman finished with an individual score of 79 and led the way for the Belles with a fourth place individual finish. The score was enough to earn Simmerman a place on the all-tournament team, but the Belles were unsatisfied with their loss to NCAA contender Depauw University. “We were a little disappointed losing to Depauw. We know that course very well, but we were a little overconfident going into Saturday,” Simmerman said. With head coach Mark Hamilton on a brief hiatus, the team struggled somewhat with individual scores. However, Saint Mary’s still finished ahead of 14 of the 17 teams in the tournament, and the invite did no harm to their chances for the NCAA Championship.Today’s competition has the advantage of being in South Bend, and the team has tried to use their advantage as much as possible in the past week, going out to the course daily to get a feel for the greens. Simmerman feels fairly confident in the compatibility of today’s course with her and her teammates. “I think the course will couple well with the way our team plays; there are some longer par 5s, which we can play fairly well on,” Simmerman said. The amount of par 5s as well as par 3s on this afternoon’s course ought to offer a lot of birdie opportunities for the Belles, which may be just what they need. As a team, Saint Mary’s is trying to work on improving individual scores, which have been somewhat sporadic so far this season. In the two events the Belles have competed this spring, scores have generally ranged from mid-80s to mid- to high- 70s. Simmerman’s 79 on Saturday was the lowest individual score of the spring season, and the team would like to see more like that from everyone. Their goal is to come in today with some great individual scores, in the mid- to high-70s.Saint Mary’s is in prime position for the NCAA tournament. The top two teams in each region earn a spot in the tournament, and Saint Mary’s is in second place in the MIAA, behind only Depauw.