They have been practicing for less than a week, but the members of the Ashland University women's golf team will waste no time looking to be in midseason form as the 2017-18 season gets underway this weekend.
Starting with the Michael Corbett Fall Classic on Sunday (Sept. 10) and Monday (Sept. 11) in Erie, Pa., the Eagle women will play in three full tournaments and the start of a fourth over the final three weeks of September.
"It's going to be super-exciting," said first-year head coach Andrew Bolinger. "These girls are very talented. We're going to be taking five of the eight girls to our first tournament at Gannon, with expectations of competing there."
There is an interesting dynamic where the Ashland roster is concerned. Of the eight golfers on the team, none are seniors (two juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen).
"It's a little different this year," said junior Monica Torda. "We've got two good freshmen coming in, so I think that will be huge. We're kind of young, but I do think we're going to have a good shot this year."
Ashland has qualified for the NCAA Division II postseason every year this decade, so continuing that streak in 2018 will be done by a group that is young-but-experienced.
"That's definitely one of the main goals," Bolinger said. "Team GPA, they got a 3.49 (last year). If they get a 3.5, they'll qualify for All-Scholar Team, which is a huge standard to set. Ashland's never won the GLIAC, so that's a good goal to have."
Sophomore Krystal Hu returns after having played just 14 rounds in a half a season of golf in 2016-17, but her season average of 77.57 is the eighth-best in program history.
"I want to make it to regionals and nationals this year," Hu said of her team goals. "I'm looking forward to playing every tournament. I've played with them (the freshmen) a couple rounds already, and they're pretty good."
"She's a very good player. She has a very great swing," Bolinger said. "She has ability that she can compete at the national level, for sure."
Ashland boasts three other main returnees from a season ago – juniors Torda (82.93 average last year) and Morgan Eib (82.07), and sophomore Anna Schatschneider (84.83). Schatschneider worked that average down to 81.64 over the last four tournaments of the spring of 2017.
"She improved dramatically," Bolinger said. "Her and Morgan both improved a couple shots from the fall to the spring."
Said Schatschneider, "I'm really excited for this year. It (the spring) helped a lot. I've gotten my drives out there longer now. That definitely helped me with the distance."
Eib, unfortunately, will miss the fall season due to injury.
Bolinger, however, said Lemons will become known soon enough.
"Hannah's going to be the X factor. She's proven that she is one of the better players on the team," said Bolinger. "If her and Sophie can help the team, which I believe they will, that will be a huge factor for the team going forward into the spring."