By Jill Stinson/Assistant sports editor
After 11 days off, the women’s golf team will travel north to Carbondale, Ill., to compete in the Saluki Invitational in Mar. 27-29. The ladies are coming off an 11th-place finish in Florida and over a week of rest. “We were a little rusty in our last tournament, but we’ve had a couple of weeks of good practice,” said head coach Joni Stephens.
The Lady Colonels have played in the this tournament in the past, so Stephens is no stranger to the course, but none of the girls competing have ever played there before. According to Stephens, the girls will like this course because it is wide open.
“It’s a course we should score low on,” said Stephens.
It will be no easy task for the Lady Colonels to finish at the top, though. The field is very competitive, but at the same time all of the teams are pretty well balanced, according to Stephens.
Eastern will have to beat out teams such as Arkansas State, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, Northern Illinois and Southwest Missouri. They will also compete against OVC rival Murray State, who has won the OVC tournament championship the past two years. Bradley University, which finished just above the ladies in their last tournament, will also be competing. But the University of Michigan is the team to really watch. They are ranked 47th in NCAA standings, according to golfstats.com, and are expected to finish at the top of this tournament.
According to Stephens, Leah Larkin, Kelly Flynn and Jennifer Sullivan all shot some good scores at El Diablo. Those ladies in particular are expected to finish at the top of this tournament. Larkin finished 34th in the last tournament. Flynn and Sullivan finished just behind her at 36th and 41st.
This tournament will be played in a different form than what the Lady Colonels are used to. They will post six scores and four will be counted, opposed to the usual format where they post five and count four.
“This should work to our advantage because we have an extra score to play with,” Stephens said.
Eastern is expected to finish high in this tournament and has hopes of earning their first top finish of the season. If they play well, they could win, according to Stephens.
“We’ll have to play good golf,” Stephens said.