Belles in second place after first MIAA automatic qualifier, set for weekend competition
Joe Everett | Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Saint Mary’s started its quest for a trip to the national championship with its first of three MIAA automatic qualifiers Tuesday afternoon, walking away from Medalist Golf Club in second place and trailing first-place Hope by 11 strokes.
The Belles finished in the top four of MIAA play in the fall season, which earned them the chance to compete with Trine, Olivet and Hope for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The four teams will compete in three 18-hole rounds this week, and Olivet hosted the first round Tuesday and while Hope is set to host the remaining two over the weekend at The Ravines Golf Club. Because the automatic bid represents the Belles’ best chance to make the NCAA tournament, Belles head coach Kim Moore said her team needed to get off to a good start Tuesday to take down favorites Hope and Olivet, who finished first and second, respectively, in the MIAA fall season.
“Currently, we have played Olivet and Hope at tournaments this spring, and we have finished very close to both of those teams,” Moore said. “I think we have a great chance of beating Olivet and Hope, but it all [started] at this first event.”
With little room for error against top competition, the Belles also needed to execute at a high level in order to be in a position to win at the weekend rounds at Hope, Moore said.
The Belles were able to scramble well Tuesday, fulfilling one of Moore’s goals for her team, shooting a 49-over 337 to put themselves in second place heading into the weekend. Conference-leading Hope shot a 38-over 326 to take an 11-stroke lead into the weekend rounds. Olivet and Trine found themselves just behind Saint Mary’s with a 50-over 338 and 57-over 345, respectively.
After facing a tough schedule and playing against good teams throughout the year, Moore said she sees the mental toughness her team has and expects them to be up to the challenge this week. Although the team needs every individual to step up and perform well at the MIAA automatic qualifiers, Moore especially expects her experienced golfers to have a lot of confidence and to play well come competition time, she added.
“I am expecting [junior] Ali Mahoney to play well,” Moore said. “ … I also expect our senior, Sammie Averill, to play well this week. For some reason, she is very comfortable playing with the teams and players we will be playing against this weekend. I hope she uses her success in the fall to give her that confidence she needs.”
With the first round in the books, the next two rounds will be hosted by Hope on Friday and Saturday, with each day’s competition starting at 2 p.m. at The Ravines Golf Club.