Saturday marks the beginning of the spring season for the Fresno State women’s golf team.
The 2013 Peg Barnard Invitational at University Course in Stanford, Calif., will be the location for the Bulldogs’ spring debut as they begin the road toward their first appearance in the Mountain West Conference Championship.
The Bulldogs are coming off a fall season that saw them play in four tournaments in four different states. Their strongest performance came in their third tournament in Palm Springs, Calif., when they beat out 17 other teams to bring home a victory.
“I feel like we’ve had some good things,” coach Angie Cates-Moore said of the year so far. “We’ve also had some areas that we need to work on and improve. The fall season, we had a great finish down in Palm Springs with a victory, which was really exciting for the entire team. Everybody contributed so that was fun.”
Cates-Moore said the main concern of the year has been trying to find a regular fifth member of the lineup. Senior Shaylee Yano, junior Christine Uhalde, sophomore Madchen Ly and freshman Hannah Sodersten lead the usual lineup.
“We’ve got a really solid top four in our lineup. I guess we really need somebody to step up in that five spot and help be consistent in that role there,” Cates-Moore said. “We’ve got the top four that are consistent and putting up good scores, and that number five spot has just been kind of floating around in the fall. We really need to get somebody locked in there that’s going to perform well for us.”
The team has played on some tough courses and faced some stiff competition in the previous tournaments, but has been able to use them as learning experiences, she said.
“We also kind of saw what the differences were between the best teams in the country and where we were. We’ve worked really hard in the offseason to kind of close that gap and they’re ready for the spring season,” she added.
This first spring tournament in Stanford is one that the team is particularly excited to play in. Cates-Moore said this is a course where the girls feel comfortable.
“I’m really excited about going to Stanford,” Cates-Moore said. “We had success there last year, and it’s nice to know that the team is going to be comfortable playing that golf course, because there are good vibes there from last year.
“It’s another good field, a lot of good teams are going to be there and we’re going in with confidence and belief that we can go up against the best players in the country because we did it last year. Confidence will be good and they’ve been working really hard and should feel ready there.”
For the Bulldogs, the only tournament that can rival Stanford this season will be the Anuenue Spring Break Classic in Hawaii.
“Stanford, just because I won it last year,” Uhalde said, “and so I’m trying to play good again if I can and do the best I can. Obviously, we have Hawaii during the spring, and it’s always a really fun tournament.”
Yano lists the yearly trip to Hawaii as one of her favorite memories of her time in the program.
“Being able to travel to Hawaii every year is definitely a privilege, just because I know that once I’m done, I probably won’t be going back to Hawaii for a while,” Yano said. “Definitely having that opportunity to go and relax on the beach and play such nice courses is always fun.”
It is not going to be just a Hawaiian vacation for the Bulldogs, though, as Cates-Moore said the Hawaii tournament would be one of many tough competitions for the team.
“This is definitely the most competitive schedule I’ve ever put together for the team,” Cates-Moore said. “We go to Stanford and Cal and Hawaii. It’s one of the best tournaments Hawaii has ever had as far as teams coming. So we’re going to see a lot of great competition that’s going to prepare us for the fall season.”
All these tournaments will lead the Bulldogs to the Mountain West Conference Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. In college golf, there is no conference schedule, so Fresno State has yet to play all the teams it will face in the championship.
Cates-Moore said they have kept an eye on how the other schools have been doing.
“We have seen some of the teams throughout the fall season. We’ll see some of them in the spring,” she said. “We know who’s out there and what they’re doing. The Mountain West Conference is a lot more competitive than the WAC was, so that’s good for us. Right now we’re probably in the middle of the conference, but I’ve always said any given day, any given team can win a golf tournament.”
Following the end of the season, the Bulldogs will lose only one team member, as Yano is the team’s only senior. The team captain said that she is thankful for her time on the team.
“I love it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I love all my teammates. I love my coach. We have such strong team chemistry, so that definitely make things a lot easier,” she said. “I think it’s just been a great experience, and I’m definitely going to miss it next year.”