Butler looks to pick up strokes

AUSTIN MILLER | STAFF REPORTER

Just five months removed from a last-place finish at the Big East Championship tournament last season, the Butler women’s golf team believes this is the year to make a name for itself within the conference.

Last season the Bulldogs were unable to make any noise in the post-season, finishing 51 strokes off the pace of tournament-winning Seton Hall University in the 54-hole tournament.

Senior Jenna Peters tied for runner-up honors, but the team did not place any other players higher than 23rd overall.

“I think we could have competed in the conference tournament last year,” said eight-year head coach Bill Mattingly. “I don’t think our showing in that event was our best effort.”

Butler graduated just one of the five players that played in the tournament.

Among the returning members are Peters and Isabella Lambert, another senior who had a noteworthy off-season after advancing to the match play portion of the USGA-sponsored U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. Lambert also took first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship in 2013.

“Jenna and Isabella are both capable of challenging for the Big East individual title this season,” Mattingly said. “They are great leaders for us.”

Although becoming a conference medalist is a big honor in itself, the two are keeping larger goals in mind.

“(Winning the conference) is my goal this year,” Peters said, “but at the same time we are all trying to ultimately get the team qualified for (NCAA) Regionals. That is the ultimate goal.”

The 2013-14 season marked the first time since 2009-10 that the team failed to qualify for the NCAA Regionals. The problem seemed to come from a lack of consistency among the bottom portion of the lineup.

“Last year, I do think we were a little top-heavy in our lineup,” Mattingly said, “but I expect to feature a much more balanced look this year. It is going to take a season of improvement and working to solidify the lineup, as well as to get some college experience for the freshmen on the roster to get where we want to go.”

The team plays four tournaments in the fall portion of the schedule before the winter break, starting on Sept. 7 with the Redbird Invitational hosted by Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.

The Bulldogs resume play with five more tournaments from February to April before the Big East Championship April 16-18.

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