Freshamn Kara Fant tees off at the Eastern golf teams 10th annual Booster Scramble last Saturday. The event featured current and former players, alumni and Eastern faculty and staff. (Jonathan Kleppinger)

By Jason Finnell

Coming off a third place finish in the Spring 2008 Ohio Valley Conference Championships, Eastern’s women’s golf team is looking to build their young team, complete with six freshman members.These six recruits-Taylor Church, Kara Fant, Linda Hogberg, Lindsey Rankin, Alex Schmidt, and Katie Wiedmar-enter into the Colonel program with strong high school resumes.

Taylor Church helped qualify the Christian Academy of Louisville for the state tournament four years in a row. In 2006, she was the state runner-up. In 2007 she averaged a 79 while helping lead her team as co-captain.

Kara Fant was recognized as a four-time all-region selection at T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, S.C. She led her team with a low average of 77.5 in 2007.

Swedish player Linda Hogberg posted an impressive three victories in her home country last summer and placed in the top 10 six times. She had low rounds of 71 and 73 at two events in August.

Lindsey Rankin was a member of the Lincoln County High School varsity girls’ team for seven seasons. She was the team MVP in 2004, 2005 and 2006. She qualified for the state tournament in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, she placed third at the regional tournament. Rankin was also a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club and participated in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

New Englander Alex Schmidt was Lebanon High School’s first female captain of the golf team and posted the team’s lowest scoring average. She finished fifth once and fourth three times at the high state championships. She won the Laconia Invitational in 2005 and 2007, and finished in the top 25 at the New Hampshire state amateur in 2007.

Fellow Louisvillian Katie Wiedmar, from Mercy Academy, placed 22 out of 150 participants at last years’ state tournament. She also is a three-time member of the all-county team.

This year, sophomore Gabrielle Andersson will be counted on to help lead the young team. As a freshman, Andersson played in all six fall events while posting the second best stroke average on the team. Her three round total of 230 at the Cardinal Cup last fall was the lowest 54-hole score by a Colonel golfer in the fall. Andersson completed her freshman season with four top 20 finishes, highlighted by a tie for sixth at the OVC Championship.

Sophomore Charlotte Lundell, who joined the Colonels in the spring, placed in the top 20 twice, including a seventh-place tie at the NewWave Racer Classic.

Despite being a sophomore, coach Joni Stephens expects a lot from Andersson.

“Gabby did a great job for us,” Stephens said. “She’s going to be taking on a leadership role.”

Stephens said Andersson has been working hard on certain aspects of her game this summer. Andersson has great distance along with a good short game, Stephens said. “We’re going to see some great scores from her this year,” she added. Stephens said she thinks Andersson currently has top-15 talent within the conference, but has the potential to be in the top 10.

With a team that is so young and inexperienced, there will undoubtedly be some early adjustments and growing pains, but Stephens said the future of Eastern golf is very bright because of its talented freshman class.

Stephens said the freshmen are filled with energy and enthusiasm and are ready to learn.

The women’s golf team has a challenging schedule that includes a trip to the University of Michigan on Sept. 13 and 14, Ball State Sept. 22 and 23, and another match with a division one opponent at Xavier starting on Oct. 10.

Playing against Big Ten, MAC, and Atlantic 10 opponents will help the young team progress towards the ultimate goal of winning an OVC championship in the spring.

Under Stephens’ leadership, the team compiled four top 10 finishes in six events during the Fall 2007 schedule.

Eastern begins its fall portion of the schedule Sept. 5 against defending conference champion Jacksonville State at their home course in Gadsden, Alabama.