Starting the year off early with practice and team drills, Coach Angie Cates thinks that the womenâ€™s golf team is ready to start the new season.
That start has to come, however, without a key player.
Former team member Jennifer Shipley left the team in August on allegations of being mistreated.
Last year, Shipley was the only team member who went to the post season. She tied for 37th place at the NCAA Regionals in the post season and received the Co-MVP award.
â€œWe are all moving forward. We are going to have players step up and fill the role,â€ Cates said. â€œWe have to focus on players who are on the team.â€
Senior Laura Luethke, a Clovis native, is a repeat first-team All-WAC as well as team MVP, which she shared with Shipley last year. She was also the 2005 WAC Freshman of the Year.
â€œI think sheâ€™s gonna have a great last year of college. Sheâ€™s excited about it,â€ Cates said. â€œI think sheâ€™s really going to go out with a bang.â€
Junior Taylor Sierbert and sophomore Maria Pia Escandon have worked a lot over summer and have improved, Cates said.
â€œShe had some really good tournaments last year,â€ Cates said of Escandon.
Last yearâ€™s most improved recipient Whitney Yano is also a player to watch.
In April, Cates announced the addition of freshman Chelsea Czinski, from the IMG Academy in Florida, to this yearâ€™s roster.
Cates said she has given her team what she calls a qualifier to see who will be able to handle playing in a real tournament.
â€œThe qualifier lets me see how they play under a little bit of heat,â€ Cates said.
Unlike most sports, the team plays throughout the entire year, with the exception of winter break.
Once it resumes in January, play continues up until May.
Last season, the team won the Kitahara Fresno State Invitational over UC Irvine by two strokes. Individually, Escandon placed ninth.
Also last season, the team placed fifth at the WAC Championship in Las Cruces, N.M. and Luethke tied for second individually.
The team will compete in Fresno at the Fresno State Invitational in February at the Copper River Country Club.
Itâ€™s other time playing in Fresno will be at this years WAC Championship which will be hosted by Fresno State April 21 to 23.
The Bulldogs host the WAC Championship every seven years due to a rotation between competing schools.
â€œItâ€™s a very big deal for us,â€ Cates said. â€œHopefully we can get some big support groups out there. That would be awesome.â€
Opening the season: upcoming tournaments
â€¢ Ptarmigan/Ram Fall Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., Sept. 10.
â€¢ Salbasgeon Suites Invitational in Corvallis, Ore., Sept. 17
â€¢ Heather Farr/ U. of Colorado Memorial in Broomfield, Colo., Oct. 1