After a program record second place finish at the Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2010, the Middle Tennessee women's golf team will look to build off that success this season, beginning Monday on The Schoolmaster Course at The Shoals Golf Club in Muscle Shoals, Ala.
"I think that with the success of last year, the girls know what it's going to take to win down there," head coach Chris Adams said. "We're really excited about competing this year because for the first time in several years, the field seems to be pretty wide open with a number of top 100 and top 50 teams. We know that we have a chance and we like this course, but we have to put up three really good rounds."
The Blue Raiders will find themselves in familiar surroundings on Monday, having played the Schoolmaster Course in last season's event and last fall in a practice round.
"We know this golf course pretty well," Adams said. "Four of the girls played it last year, and I feel like we have a pretty good feel for it, but we know that we will have our work cut out for us."
If the Blue Raiders are to be successful, Karisa Akin and Olivia Love are likely to be two of the main reasons.
Both lead the team in stroke average this spring, and Akin is coming off a fourth-place showing in last year's event to earn a spot on the All-Sun Belt Team. Love was also successful last season, finishing in a tie for eighth.
"Olivia and Karisa are the top two for us," Adams said. "They're neck-and-neck in scoring average, and I think they've separated themselves this spring. They've proven that they are the most consistent and competitive in nearly every tournament."
Coming off a playoff victory at the Belmont Invitational earlier this month,Stephanie Smith will be making her first career trip to the Sun Belt Championship.
"Stephanie really played herself in with her spring," Adams said. "She's had three rounds this season that counted as the team low for the day, and I like her confidence coming in after winning the playoff a few weeks ago."
Morgan Hale and Ashley Haggard will round out the line-up for Middle Tennessee.
The Sun Belt Women's Golf Championship will begin on Monday. Live scoring will be available at Golfstat.com.