By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Women's Golf is ready to rock in the 2019 Ohio Athletic Conference Championships this weekend. An unlikely motivator may be in play as the Crusaders prepare for its three-day stay in West Lafayette, Ohio.
THE STARTING FIVE
The Capital starting five is set and will feature the familiar names we have come to know all season long. Sydney Kelly (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) and Katelynn Kinley (Sycamore, Ohio/Mohawk) will head up the Capital pack. Kelly leads the team with its lowest per-round score at 86.59, while Kinley is not far behind having posted an average of 87.20 strokes. Sophomore Madison Harsh (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) had made herself a force to be reckoned with and houses the team's second-lowest per round score at 86.93.
Sophomore Molly Frey (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North) has stepped up her game this season and has made a case that she is ready to make a serious contribution in this year's championship. She has improved her average score to 93.24 on the year and has a solid spring with three sub-90 rounds over the last three tournaments.
While freshman Megan Maschari (Sandusky, Ohio/St. Mary's Central Catholic) may be short on experience, Head Coach Andy Garcia believes she has made such strides this year that she has earned the chance to compete.
"She [Maschari] gets better every day … she works her butt off. She doesn't have experience, yet, and was a late bloomer in the game of golf, but she is ultra-athletic."
Maschari, whose season low round score is a 94, will round out the number five spot in the Capital lineup.
TAKE FROM THE CART
Coach Garcia says that he and the Crusaders are feeling extremely confident about this weekend's championship, but for reasons different than one may expect. The confidence is actually a byproduct of the team's struggle at their most recent tournament held two weeks ago at the Wooster Spring Invitational at Mohican Hills Golf Club.
Cap finished in ninth place among a field of 14 teams but played out of character. The team has used that performance to fuel its motivation to provide a strong finish to the year.
"We had a great spring with everybody firing on all cylinders but having said that, we struggled at Wooster and it was the best thing that could have happened to us," said Garcia. "Now we go into the championship with a chip on your shoulder because of how we finished. It was a good moment for us because now we've had two weeks to get ready for the conference championship."
The Crusaders have been off and preparing for the championship over the last two weeks, also while preparing for finals, which began Wednesday.
Garcia went on, "Now they have a chip on their shoulders and are hungry, and now we've seen the work ethic skyrocket through the roof, and when you see that passion and energy coming on at this time of the year, especially with everything else going on in their lives, it makes you proud to be a Crusader because these kids get it. I've never felt more confident going into the conference championship."
THE REST OF THE FIELD
Capital will be going into the weekend as the No. 3 seed in the tournament and as Coach Garcia sees it, among the top three teams it is going to be an incredible race to the finish.
"We are the number three seed for a reason," said Garcia. "Otterbein has had a heck of a year and he [Coach Booher] has turned it into a dynamite team. We went 0-2 against Mount Union and they've beaten us for a reason. Because of their experience, Mount will push us. Otterbein has a stacked team. Then you have the hunger and the youth of Cap. It's going to be a fun battle for three days."
Mount Union is a senior-laden team that has won the tournament each of the last four years, and in 2015 they shared the title with Otterbein. Otterbein is this year's top seed, followed by Mount Union and then Capital. Last year, CU finished fourth behind Mount Union, Otterbein and John Carroll.
The Crusaders will be making a return trip to River Greens Golf Course in West Lafayette, Ohio for the three-day event. It was the site of the Fall OAC Preview in which Capital (776) finished in fifth place. Otterbein (692) and Mount Union (743) took the top two spots in that tournament, followed by Baldwin Wallace (757) and John Carroll (764).
Day one of the tournament may prove to be a soggy day with rains projected to begin in the morning hours and continue through the afternoon, accompanied by winds ranging from 10-15 miles per hour and a high temperature of 61 degrees.
Saturday and Sunday may be slightly cooler with neither day hitting 60 degrees, but skies will remain clear and winds under 10 miles per hour. Weather forecast is subject to change.