MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – If the season goes anything like the academia trends for these girls, the Buccaneers should be banging out good numbers.
Barry University women’s golf team opens the season Saturday at the Kiawah Island Classic hosted by Tusculum College in South Carolina. Already the Bucs are “smarting,” what with their school-best 3.667 grade point average in the fall. Now if they can turn those numbers into intelligent, well-manicured play on the golf course, it could make for an exciting season for a squad ready-whipped with four freshmen.
The Buccaneers won the Marjorie Whitney Invitational in the fall, beating Saint Leo by seven strokes at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla. Freshman Nancy Vergara tied for second at the event, shooting an 8-over 152, which was three strokes away from forcing a playoff with the eventual champion.
Junior Taylor Babcock had three top five finishes as a sophomore, and is poised to amp it up this season. Senior Lizzi Over, second on the team in scoring average as a junior, had three top 10 finishes in 2010-11. Senior Anne Fourdraine had two top-five dual event finishes, placing fourth at the Flagler Fall Slam last year.
Paola Grande will be inserted into the lineup after missing the fall season with health issues. A freshman with untapped potential, Buccaneers coach Gina Umeck is hoping Grande pays big dividends.
“She’s kind of the lynch pin,” the second-year Bucs coach said. “Her equipment is really serving her. Her head space is in a really good place right now.”
Babcock, who herself admitted this year is big for her personally, is a gutsy competitor in search of a memorable junior season. If she puts together the scores, her contributions could fortify this team come late April.
“Taylor really thrives on competition,” Umeck said. “She wants to be the best. As a coach, that’s really fun to coach. She thrives on coming through in the clutch under pressure.”
Freshman Daniela Murray was an amateur champ in her native Brazil, where she competed for her country at the South American Championships. Fellow first-year Buccaneer Francesca Perini was second at the Under-18 Italian National Championships in 2010.
The Buccaneers have been working with Barry sports psychologist, Dr. Lauren Tashman, to refine the mental aspect of their games.
“She’s really incited a team dynamic, a team identity,” Umeck said. “They’re recreating together.”
Barry juiced up the competition it will see this year, entering events with the likes of Rollins College and Florida Southern that have the Buccaneers buying into the concept that in order to be the best, they’ll have to beat the best.
“We’re playing tougher fields because we belong there,” Umeck said. “We can match it.”