Ashland University's women's golf team has had a successful 2017-18 season, as it seeks a ninth straight trip to the NCAA Division II postseason.
The Eagles will have one last chance to prepare for the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships – and a possible return to the NCAA playoffs – at home on Saturday (April 14) and Sunday (April 15) at Ashland Golf Club.
The Ashland Invitational will be a 16-team tournament. Joining the Eagles on the links will be Bellarmine, California (Pa.), Davenport, Ferris State, Gannon, Grand Valley State, Lake Superior State, Lewis, Maryville, Mercyhurst, Northwood, Saginaw Valley State, Tiffin, Wayne State and Wittenberg.
GVSU is ranked No. 12 in the country, and is the lone Top 25 team in this weekend's field.
"They will be the favorites coming in," said Ashland head coach Andrew Bolinger. "Hopefully, we can compete with them, especially on our home course. It's a home tournament, but for us, we've only been able to play the course a couple times, so we haven't been able to take advantage of it."
Tee times on Saturday will be from 11 a.m. to roughly 1 p.m. on holes No. 1 and 10. Sunday will start at 9 a.m., in a shotgun format. Those times are subject to change due to weather.
In eight tournaments this season to date, Ashland has finished among the top three teams five times, and among the top three teams in-region six times. Of the 16 rounds the Eagles have played in, nine have seen team scores of 315 or lower.
Earlier this week, Ashland finished third in the 16-team NC4K College Classic in Blacklick, Ohio – after having not played for three weeks.
"We played in the snow on Monday…it snowed for the first 13 holes, and yesterday (Tuesday), it snowed at the end," Bolinger said. "Shooting those scores, 312 and 313, I'm very happy. It's a good confidence-builder going into our home tournament."
Sophomore Krystal Hu has led Ashland the entire season. She has a medalist title, four top-four finishes and six top-10 showings in 2017-18, and her season average is 75.56.
"She was very consistent," Bolinger said of Hu, who was tied for fourth at the NC4K.
Freshman Hannah Lemons is next on the Eagles scoring average leaderboard at 78.38. Lemons has finished in the top 10 three times as a collegian. Junior Monica Torda is the veteran of the senior-less team, averaging 80.5 shots per round.
"Monica's showed improvement. Her mental game's a lot stronger on the course now," Bolinger said. "She finished strong yesterday. I'm proud of her for doing that."
Another rookie, Sophie Hemleben, is sporting a season average of 81.63, but three of her last four rounds (80, 77, 81) have been lower than that.
"If we can get the two freshmen and Krystal to play well, that's a huge benefit for us," said Bolinger.
The 2018 GLIAC Championships will be April 20-22 at The Virtues in Nashport, Ohio.