The women’s golf team finished third last season and head coach Matt Johnson believes there is still room for improvement. Returning the top three scorers from last year will be a good start for a women’s golf program that looks to reclaim the Summit League championship they last won in 2013.
Women’s Team Deeper Than Ever
During her junior campaign, Shakopee, Minn., native Alex Schmid started finding her groove. She had finished her freshman season by averaging just over 81 per round. By the end of last season, that number was down to 77.7. Schmid fired a 74 in the third and final round of the Summit League championship to cap her season with an eighth-place finish at the conference tournament, just three spots away from ending the season with an All-Tournament Team nod.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” head coach Matt Johnson said. “Alex has actually suffered from occasional inconsistency that will pop up once in a while. But she’s such a good ball striker and such a good player that if she can clean some of that stuff up, she would be such a good player. She’s really worked on that hard toward the end of last spring, doing drills and working on the mental part of her game. I’m really hoping and expecting that this year she will start to eliminate those occasional poor rounds and improve even more.”
The Bison finished tied for third in the Summit League Championship meet in Nebraska. The Bison will return their top three golfers this season, including Natalie Roth who is entering her junior year.
Roth started shooting a team-best scoring average from the moment she came to NDSU. She averaged 75.5 strokes per round last season and was named to the All-Summit League Women’s Golf First Team. But finished tied for 11th at the end-of-the-year competition.
“We’ll continue to see progression with her,” Johnson said. “She’s not one to make a lot of changes with anything, not doing anything drastically different than she’s doing from last year. She’s just trying to play with what she’s got and be more consistent.”
Schmid and Roth are two good reasons to get excited about the prospects of NDSU making their second-ever run at a Summit League Championship, but Johnson likes to point out another strength that he believes NDSU has lacked in the past. The team’s overall depth is what makes NDSU a real contender this season.
Along with Roth and Schmid, the top two scoring averages from last year, NDSU brings back sophomore Emma Groom, junior Trisa Hutchinson and senior Maggie Crippen. Johnson will also introduce three new freshmen into the mix this season.
“We don’t necessarily have any superstars, per se,” Johnson said. “It’s just a balanced group. They are capable of shooting good scores and anyone who goes out there on any given day can be our leader. I think every year we get a little bit deeper and our number four and five players are better than they’ve ever been before.”
Over the past six seasons, NDSU has broken its team scoring average on five occasions. They’ll look to do more of the same this year in hopes of reclaiming the Summit League title.