Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – With growth comes expectations.
It’s Year 4 for the Central Michigan women’s golf program 2.0 – the program was resurrected after a three-plus-decade hiatus in fall, 2014 – and the roster, for the first time since the re-start, features seniors, four of them in fact.
The Chippewas are scheduled to open the 2017-18 season on Monday with the Ball State Cardinal Classic in Yorktown, Ind. The fall portion of the schedule comprises five events; the spring slate begins with the Mid-American Conference Match Play Challenge in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., Feb. 5-6.
Natalie Johnson, Holly Hines and Kristen Wolfe are three of the four seniors on the roster, and that trio joins freshman Jami Laude and sophomore Danielle Sawyer in comprising CMU’s lineup for the season opener.
Johnson led the Chippewas with an 80.61 average in 2016-17, while Sawyer was second with 81.17. Among Sawyer’s accomplishments was a program-record 72, which she recorded last fall at the Toledo Rocket Classic. Wolfe has shot 73 three times in her CMU career, while Johnson has signed for a 73 once.
Laude is among three freshmen who could pay dividends both immediately and in the long run in a program that is clearly making strides as the veterans have matured and improved and the new blood – Sawyer arrived last year with Katie Logan, a regular in the lineup throughout 2016-17– continues to raise the talent level.
“We’re building a strong program with the recruits that we have coming in,” said Cheryl Stacy, who is beginning her third full season in charge of the program. “With our veteran players continuing to improve we’re trending in the right direction.”
Laude, like her fellow underclassmen on the roster, sports an impressive junior golf/high school resumé. She earned the No. 1 spot in preseason qualifying. That a freshman will begin the season as the Chippewas’ top stick – and two of the top three players are underclassmen -- is indicative of how far the program has come and where it is headed.
“She’s played enough competitive golf to know what the feeling’s going to be in that environment,” Stacy said of Laude. “This will be a new experience, and it’ll be a matter of her getting used to it and playing with college-age players. She’s used to the competitive environment, so that will help.”
The Cardinal Classic comprises 54 holes on The Players Club, Ball State's home course. The tournament opens on Monday with 36 holes. The final 18-hole round is scheduled for Tuesday.