Women’s golf preview: Teeing off for success

Sophomore Kelli Scheck tees off. Photo courtesy of Butler University Athletics

JULIA LORELLI | SPORTS REPORTER | jlorelli@butler.edu 

The women’s golf team has high expectations for this season after placing first in two of their 11 meets last season — one victory in the Redbird Fall Invitational and the other one during the Bradley Coyote Creek Classic. 

An experienced team welcomes the new 

The team welcomes first year Ashley Freitas and brings back redshirt first year Sophie McGinnis to a squad that hopes to capitalize on veteran experience. 

Freitas is a multisport athlete as well as an academic machine. She played basketball, softball and golf in high school while earning her varsity letter twice. For golf she finished second in scoring average in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League as a senior, made two CIF Central Coast Section appearances, received all-league accolades after three seasons, including First Team recognition as a senior, and was team MVP her final season. 

Freitas has set some high goals for herself, enthusiastically wanting to play in as many events as she can. 

“I think my goal [is to play] half [of the matches] and just getting comfortable with college golf and seeing improvements on the course and in the classroom,” Freitas said. “I’m super excited; I felt like I was comfortable as soon as I got here. The team has made me feel really welcomed. It makes me excited for what’s to come as an individual and what the team can do.” 

Freitas is the only true first year on the team, but already feels comfortable with her new surroundings because of the insight that has been given to her by the other players. Golf is a strategic game, so it is very helpful to watch and learn from seasoned veterans. Freitas prefers college golf to high school golf because of the level of competition that comes with being at a university, and also finds it enjoyable to be surrounded by other golfers that have a genuine passion and talent for the game. 

Redshirt first year McGinnis was injured her first season at Butler during the Redbird Fall Invitational, but is eagerly anticipating her return. Prior to Butler, she led Westfield to top five finishes at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals all four years on the team. She was also a two-time Indiana all-state selection and finished ninth at the 2021 State Finals. 

Experience advances playing ability 

The amount of practice that the current sophomores had last year proved helpful in improving their game. Sophomore Kelli Scheck was the top scorer for the team last year, and she wants to take her game to the next level this year.

“I want to get my scoring average lower than it was last year,” Scheck said. “A lot of the golf courses we played last year, we’re playing again this year, so it’ll be nice to go there again and improve on them. For me, a few more top 10 finishes would be great [in] putting on a better look for the Big East.”

While being a top scorer, Scheck wants to use her experience to be a leader and help her teammates. She also wants to use her positive personality and loud voice to inspire others while also learning some lessons herself. 

“I enjoy being a leader; I like being there for everyone,” Scheck said. “It’s not expected, but I like being there to answer other people’s questions. Take your teammates’ advice because I’d be out with some of them, doing a practice round, and some of my problems that I would have, my teammates would know how to fix them. This is how we work together, boosting each other up.” 

Golf can be a mentally straining game for anyone, including those playing it at the college level, which is why the team camaraderie proves to be important during the season. 

“My first college tournament last year was a big change for me just to mentally stay in the game because you are adding 18 more holes,” Scheck said. “It’s a big step from high school to college.” 

The team is coached by Christie Cates, a 2016 Butler graduate. During her time at Butler as a student, Cates played for three seasons after transferring from Franklin College. She joined the coaching staff while attending Butler and was involved in all aspects of both men’s and women’s golf. 

Cates has high expectations for her team, especially since last year they were a young team with the majority of their players being first years. 

A lot of the sophomores now, they have a full year of experience under their belt; we’ve got some juniors, and Ashley, who’s a freshman,” Cates said. “It’s a bit of an oxymoron because our sophomores played every event last year, which is not normal for freshmen.” 

Cates emphasizes the importance of depending on teammates. Having a team of women of different ages from all over the world is important because they can always learn from one another. She also wants her team to practice on a variety of courses to improve and become more well rounded. 

Cates looks to her more experienced players to lead the way and help out those who are still adjusting to the college level. 

“Leading by example is big in golf,” Cates said. “How we go about practice, workouts, even just hanging out is all about a good vibe.” 

The 2023-24 Butler women’s golf schedule features 11 events in total: five in the fall and six in the spring leading up to the Big East Championships, which takes place in Callawassie Island, S.C. from April 20-22. The Bulldogs host the Butler Fall Invitational on Oct. 2 and 3 while the rest of the season will take them all over the country from Kentucky to Florida. 


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