Put a club in these ladies’ hands, and they’re plenty dangerous.
The Baylor women’s golf team hopes to punish those little white golf balls this week with booming drives and well-placed approach shots. Baylor will open up action in the NCAA’s East Lansing (Mich.) Regional on Monday at the Forest Akers West Golf Course.
“I see a bunch of fighters on this team,” Baylor coach Jay Goble said. “I see a bunch of players that want to compete, want to go out there. They’re really excited about the opportunity to go to nationals. I think that’s why we do so well at the end of the year every year is because everything up to this point is a warm-up.”
Under Goble, the Bears have made a habit of strong finishes. This marks their seventh NCAA regional trip in the past eight years, and they’re coming off a splendid second-place showing at the Big 12 tournament.
They’re hoping to stuff that momentum into their golf bags and carry it with them to Michigan.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said senior Maria Vesga, who finished 14th at the Big 12 tournament, shooting rounds of 72, 81 and 76. “Going into postseason, I know that we always play really well. We’re always finishers and not starters, like my coach says.
“We’re just really confident right now going into regionals and we have a pretty good feel. We’re just ready to go up and get the work done.”
Baylor has advanced through the regional round in each of its last three appearances. There should be no better example of the team’s gut-churning gumption than last year’s regional showing in Austin. A stomach virus ran through the team and wreaked havoc, forcing two players to make emergency room visits the night before the final round.
But the team kept battling, and ended up finishing fourth to punch its ticket to nationals.
“I have really bad memories for the last day because obviously I had to withdraw after seven holes,” Vesga said. “I pretty much passed out. Just seeing my team out there fighting and just seeing that we made it, and we made it in a pretty comfortable spot, that just gives me the confidence and I know that I have trust in my team and I have trust in myself. And hopefully we don’t get a virus this year. We’re just really confident and ready to go.”
Baylor will be the No. 8 seed in the 18-team East Lansing field. The rest of the top eight includes No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Kent State, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 6 Campbell and No. 7 Illinois. The top six teams at each of the NCAA’s four regional sites will advance to the NCAA Championship May 17-22 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
“We’re going to go in there with a great attitude and know that we have to compete, regardless of the weather, regardless of what anybody else shoots, we have to do our best,” Goble said.