A-Sun Summer Sessions: Women's Golf, #ASunWGolf

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

MACON, Ga. – The 2012-2013 A-Sun women's golf season began with high expectations. A season complete with programs firsts, new competitive highs and shattered records didn't disappoint.

The A-Sun title added to another outstanding season for the Bucs, as they won two tournaments including the conference championship and finished no worse than eighth in any event during the season. At the A-Sun Championship, ETSU tied its program's championship high mark with a first place finish as well as establishing new marks for an individual's low 18-hole total (Sian Evans, 67 in first round) and a new team low 18-hole total (287, first round). Gabriella Wahl and Evans also finished in the championship's Top-10 for the second straight year.

ETSU participated in the NCAA East Regional, the 19th time an A-Sun team has done so, and joined 23 other teams in the field at Auburn that included conference champions No. 2 Alabama (SEC), No. 16 Oklahoma State (Big 12), No. 19 Tulane (C-USA), No. 30 Notre Dame (Big East), No. 23 Northwestern (Big 10), Florida International (Sun Belt), Chattanooga (Southern), James Madison (Colonial Athletic), Eastern Kentucky (OVC) and Alabama State (SWAC).

The field also included No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 UCLA, No. 15 North Carolina, No. 14 Virginia, No. 17 Texas, No. 31 Tennessee, No 32 Kentucky, No. 38 Texas State, No. 39 Auburn, Central Florida, No. 43 Penn State, East Carolina and No. 49 Ole Miss. The Bucs finished 17th as a team and Sian Evans paced ETSU at 35th (221).

ETSU was also well represented in the women’s golf postseason awards. Head Coach Stefanie Shelton was named the 2013 A-Sun Coach of the Year, her third such honor, and Evans earned membership to the All-Conference First Team for the third straight year. Wahl joined Evans for the second consecutive year as a First-Team All-Conference selection, and freshman Vivienne Chin was selected as Freshman of the Year. Chloe Garner joined Chin on the All-Conference Second Team, and Wahl also earned membership to the Academic All-Conference Team.

ETSU (59/59) finished the season as the highest rated A-Sun team in the final GolfWeek/Golfstat rankings. The Bucs also continued their streak of finishing no worse than third in the championship since participating in their first championship. ETSU was the A-Sun leader in team stroke average at 301.2, with four of the five in its lineup in the Top-10 in stroke average.

As the 2012 defending champ, Kennesaw State finished 83/81 in the GolfWeek and Golfstat rankings, led by A-Sun Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Ines Lescudier. Lescudier led the A-Sun in stroke average (74.23), recorded a pair of top-20 finishes along with two top-fives, including the A-Sun individual title.

It was her final A-Sun performance of 2013, however, that was the most impressive. In the final round of the A-Sun Championship, Lescudier finished her last 11 holes at eight-under-par, including seven consecutive birdies from holes 11 through 17, for an amazing back-nine total of 29. The 29 is the best by an A-Sun player in the 24-year history of the championship and one of the top 10 rounds shot by a Division I collegiate player this season. Her previous best for consecutive birdies made was four, her previous low round of the season was a 68 and her prior three-round total best was a 212.

She broke six individual championship records, including the low 18-hole score that previously was 67, the low 54-hole score (210, previously 212), the low 18-hole score vs. par (-6, previously -4). the low 54-hole score vs. par (-6, previously -4), the low third round score (66, previously 69) and the low final round by a winner (66, previously 69).

Kaew and Ket Preamchuen joined Lescudier among the top 11 players in the A-Sun, Kaew with the sixth-best stroke average (75.43) and two top-10 and another pair of top-20 finishes. Ket’s stroke average was 11th-best (76.63), and she matched her younger sister with top-10 and top-20 finishes. KSU has finished among the top four teams since participating in its first championship in 2009.

FGCU’s third-place finish at the A-Sun Championship was the third time in 2012-13 that the Eagles finished among the top four in a tournament. The championship finish tied the highest ever finish in program history as well as the highest finish during the spring 2013 season. The Eagles’ solid play in the championship included a program-record team score of 291 in the second round, as the Eagles were led by Kristin Swindell, whose tie for fifth placed her on the All-Tournament Team. Swindell’s season also earned her selection to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.

During the season FGCU also finished among the top four teams in two other tournaments, including a runner-up in the LPGA/Xavier Invitational. Swindell and Georgia Price led FGCU in stroke average and also finished in the top 15 of the conference, Price 12th (76.76) and Swindell just behind in 13th (76.83). For the second straight year Price tallied an individual tournament title, along with a pair of top-10 and three top-20 finishes. Swindell recorded a top-five, a top-10 and a top-20 finish as well.

Mercer entered 2012-13 looking to build on the momentum of their third-place A-Sun Championship finish last season, which was its best since 2007 and tied that team for the best finish in program history. The finish also set the program’s best score of 880 by 35 strokes (2010 - 915). The Bears (85/75) were ranked in the Top-100 all season and boasted two of the top five players in stroke average in the A-Sun in Lacey Fears (74.65) and Mary Alice Murphy (75.13).

Mercer tallied two wins (Eat-a-Peach Collegiate, MSU Ocala Spring Invitational) along with finishing in the top five of seven tournaments in 2012-13. Fears also enjoyed a very successful individual season as an A-Sun First-Team All-Conference selection, posting five Top-20 finishes with a win at the LPGA/Xavier Invitational. She finished 12th, while the Bears finished fourth at the A-Sun Championship. Fears also competed in the US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship this summer, advancing into the match play rounds before defeat. Along with Fears and Murphy earning all-conference honors, Auriele Wiriath was selected to the A-Sun Academic All-Conference Team.

Stetson found itself in a bit of transition in 2012-13. While the Hatters were winners of three of the last four A-Sun team championships and two of the last four individual titles, they were now without one of the most decorated women's golfers in A-Sun history in Alex Buelow. During the season the Hatters posted four top-five finishes, including a team and individual title (Sammi Smith) at the Holiday Inn Express/Hatter Classic and runner-up at the MSU Ocala Spring Invitational.

Stetson finished fifth at the A-Sun Championship, led by Mallory Viera who tied for fifth (216) to earn membership on the All-Tournament Team. The Hatters also finished fourth in the A-Sun in stroke average (307.96) and Smith (77.07) and Viera (77.63) finished 15th and 20th, respectively, in the Golfstat A-Sun rankings. This summer Smith and Viera have been busy, as both played in the US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, with Viera advancing into match play. Viera also claimed the individual title at the FSGA Women’s Amateur Championship. The Hatters also placed two student-athletes on the A-Sun Academic All-Conference Team, Claudia Redinger and Viera.

Jacksonville (311.63) entered the season with first-year head coach Jennifer Borocz at the helm, and finished with the seventh-best stroke average in the A-Sun and with two players among the top 20 in the conference. Jessica Welch (76.06) ranked seventh in the A-Sun in stroke average with four top-five finishes and a pair of top 20s, while Schmett (77.28) added three top-20 finishes.

The Dolphins served as host for the A-Sun Championship for the first time in program history, welcoming their competitors to the Pine Lakes course at Jekyll Island Golf Club. JU finished sixth, led by All-Tournament Team member Welch who finished tied for fifth (216). Welch owned the team's top individual finish this season, finishing third at the JU Courtyard Classic (220). In addition to her top-five finish at the A-Sun Championship, Welch also fired a first-round 67 to tie the single-round championship record and set a new program record, breaking the previous one set by she and Schmett of 69. Welch shot 69 this year in on October 15, 2013, in the JU Courtyard Classic. Schmett recorded her 69 as a freshman in the final round of last year's A-Sun Championship.

In its first season of competition, North Florida finished fifth in stroke average in the conference (311.13), recorded a top-five finish at the LPGA/Xavier Invitational and had three players rank among the top 20 in the conference in stroke average. Freshman Emily Alpe led the Ospreys in stroke average (76.73) and finished 10th in the A-Sun, while also posting a pair of top-25 finishes during the season. Tess Huber (77.10) and Mary Rodgers (77.81) were 14th and 19th, respectively, and each had at least one top-five finish to their credit.

The Ospreys recorded one of the 10 low rounds of the season in the A-Sun, a 904 at the Eat-A-Peach Collegiate, where they finished third. Playing in their first A-Sun Championship, the Ospreys finished seventh, led by Alpe and Rodgers who tied for 18th (230). Alpe, Kelly Aylwin and Huber were also selections to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.

USC Upstate put a solid run together toward the end of 2013, finishing third or fourth in three of its last five tournaments. The Spartans, ranked eighth in the A-Sun in stroke average (322.04), were led by Amanda Hall (79.87) and Taylor Barnes (79.04), who each posted a pair of Top-10 finishes during the season. Barnes finished in a tie for 16th (229) to lead Upstate in the A-Sun Championship. The Spartans tied their best finish of eighth at the A-Sun Championship.

Heading into the A-Sun Championship, Lipscomb finished second overall in the six-team field at the Big Blue Classic. The finish was the third runner-up finish for Lipscomb during the season, and the second in its last three regular season tournaments. Ranked ninth in stroke average in the A-Sun (324.50), the Bisons were led by Savannah Schubert (80.80). Schubert recorded the team’s best overall finish of second at the SIUE Intercollegiate. Schubert and Mackenzy Carter (81.00) each tallied a pair of Top-10 and three Top-25 finishes in 2012-13. The Bisons finished ninth at the A-Sun Championship and Schubert tied for 16th (229) to lead the team.

Senior Rachel Brown (80.84) led Northern Kentucky in its first season in the A-Sun. Brown posted three top-25 finishes during the season and finished 40th at the A-Sun Championship (238), while the Norse finished 10th. Brown's best finish this season was 12th in the field at the Benbow Invitational.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University. An A-Sun team has played in the East Regional 18 times, with the best finish coming in 1997 as Campbell finished fifth with a three-round total of 951. The 2010 Bucs recorded the second-lowest three-round total by an A-Sun team in a NCAA Regional, firing 903, just one stroke above the record mark of 902 set by Campbell the same year. Last season’s championship was record-setting, as the previous three-round tournament record score of 881 (Stetson, 2009) was broken by last year’s top three finishers (KSU - 871, ETSU - 875 and Mercer - 880). Along with that bit of history, six team records and five individual records were also matched or broken.