The Saint Mary’s golf team will use the early parts of their schedule to help prepare them for a chance to earn the MIAA automatic qualifying bid later this spring after the Belles finished third in the league last fall.
By virtue of that top-four finish, Saint Mary’s will compete against Hope, Olivet, and Trine in three rounds in April. The winner of the combined results of those three rounds will receive the conference’s automatic qualifier to the 2015 NCAA Division III Championships in May.
Prior to the first of those three rounds, the Belles will hit the course for three tournaments. The season kicks off over the College’s spring break at the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational, which runs from March 13-15 in Georgia. Among the competing teams at that event are perennial Division III powerhouses Methodist, Rhodes, Claremont, and Centre as well as MIAA rival Olivet.
The Belles will close out March at the Washington University in St. Louis Spring Invitational on March 28 and 29. Less than two weeks later, Saint Mary’s makes the short trip to Angola, Indiana to compete in the Trine Spring Classic on April 10-11. The team will then play in the three conference rounds – April 14, 20, and 25 – as conference runner-up Olivet will host the first round and conference champion Hope will host the second and third rounds.
With two members of the team studying abroad this semester, the team will compete with six solid players this spring. All six of the Belles on the squad gained a lot of experience during the fall season while showing they are up to the challenge of playing against the top teams in the country.
Janice Heffernan continued to be a big leader for the Belles. The senior had a scoring average of 82.3 overall while turning in a pair of 78s and a 79 during the fall. Her 81.2 average in conference play was good enough for First Team All-MIAA honors, and she was twice named the MIAA Golfer of the Week during her senior season.
Courtney Carlson, Kailtyn Cartone, and Katie Zielinski each played in at least 10 of the 12 rounds last fall and were regular contributors to the team scoring. Carlson had a season-low 78 at the MIAA Jamboree at Alma. Cartone had an 82 at that same outing, and Zielinski notched an 88 at day two of the Belles’ O’Brien National Invitational.
Kelsey Conkright and Lydia Lorenc will both be in the mix for the Belles this spring. Conkright played in eight rounds and shot a low score of 90 at the MIAA Jamboree hosted by Saint Mary’s. Lorenc, meanwhile, has five rounds of collegiate play under her belt and had a pair of 92s last fall.