BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After a nearly four-month break, the Birmingham-Southern women's golf team is set to start the spring season with its opening tournament March 4-6.
The Panthers are coming out of the fall season with two top-five finishes in four tournaments and a match play win over Rhodes College. With the turning of the calendar, head coach Richard Schmidt is looking for his team to improve on its fall performance.
"We had some good individual performances, but we weren't quite as consistent with the team scores," he said. "We played several freshmen at times, so we're young, but we're definitely capable. Hopefully, after playing one semester together they'll play a little more consistent and compete a bit better in the spring."
One golfer who played well in the fall was junior Sarah Moon (Cordova, Tenn./St. George's Independent School). Moon finished tied for fourth at the Montgomery Country Club Women's Intercollegiate and was BSC's top golfer in two of its four tournaments.
"I expect Sarah Moon to play well," Schmidt said. "She's our No. 1 player. She's a fabulous golfer and she seems to play a little bit better in the spring."
"(Moon) has to play well for our team to do well," he added.
Another golfer to look out for is the lone senior on the team, Drew McDonagh (Germantown, Tenn./Hutchison School).
"I expect Drew to go out with a bang since it's her last semester," Schmidt said.
And a couple of freshmen will presumably make an impact in the spring, as well, Schmidt said. One mentioned was Alexis Chambers (Ft. Payne, Ala./Ft. Payne HS), who placed second at the BSC Southern Showdown to open the fall and co-led the Panthers at the Chick-fil-A Invitational.
The other, Schmidt said, is Emma Phillips (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood HS).
"I think (Phillips) is going to come on strong for us in the spring," he said. "She's very capable of shooting good scores, and I think she can help us out."
With the cast of golfers he has, Schmidt is hopeful the Panthers will begin to round out a solid starting five but says depth is an advantage for the Panthers if one or two are struggling.
"I think we're very close to having a solid five," Schmidt said, "but I think we're deep enough that we can have a sixth or seventh person and if someone isn't playing well we can substitute them in there and still compete."
And the Panthers will need strong play to compete in some of the upcoming tournaments on the schedule, Schmidt said. Birmingham-Southern has three tournaments scheduled before the Southern Athletic Association Championship Tournament on April 19-22. In all three, BSC will be playing against some of the top tier programs in the country.
"The Callaway Gardens and the Jekyll Island tournaments are two strong-fielded tournaments that we'll try to do well in," Schmidt said. "We'll also be playing against a very strong field in a tournament in St. Louis at Washington University. That's a new tournament for us and we're excited to go up there and compete in that."
The Callaway Gardens Collegiate is scheduled for March 4-6 with the Jekyll Island Collegiate following on March 15-18. The Washington University Spring Invite is scheduled for April 7-8.
At the end of the year, Schmidt hopes his team will improve its standing in the national rankings, but overall improvement is the top goal.
"I think we're ranked in the forties right now, and if we can get to be a top 30 team then that would be great heading into the summer," he said. "In the end, I'm really just looking for us to play good golf and be competitive and improve as a team. If we continue to build off the fall and improve then I'll be pleased."