The 2011-2012 women’s golf season begins with a great deal of optimism for the Valparaiso Crusaders. Mat Blair has taken over the helm of the third year program, which finished sixth at the Horizon League Championships, and he inherits eight letterwinners and one new freshman. Valpo looks to continue the steady improvement that the program has shown since it was formed prior to the 2009-2010 campaign.
Sophomore Erika Pfaender led the way for the Brown and Gold one year ago, averaging 83.3 strokes per contest, and posted a pair of top-10 finishes. Pfaender was named to the Horizon League’s All-Tournament Team after finishing in a tie for fifth place, and again she looks to pace the Crusaders in the new year.
Brianna Davy and Kelly Voigt both averaged under 85 as well during their rookie seasons, finishing with 83.8 and 84.5 stroke averages respectively. Davy set the school record with a round of 76 as well as a 36-hole total of 154 for the Brown and Gold. She gained a great deal of experience over this past summer as well, playing as an amateur in an LPGA Future Tour event. Voigt also played all 18 rounds as a freshman, turning in a 36-hole tournament best of 159.
Michelle Kleckner also appeared in every tournament as a freshman, averaging 85.7 shots per round. She had a season’s best individual round of 77, and earned a top-10 finish at the Chicago State Cougar Classic. The only other sophomore on this year’s roster is Alyssa Cameron. She participated in one event as a rookie, and looks to make an even bigger impact this season after gaining a year’s experience of collegiate golf.
Junior Jessica O’Brien leads the upperclass contingent for Valparaiso heading into the new season. She dropped her scoring average by nearly an entire stroke from her freshman to sophomore years, and looks to make even larger strides this year.
Kathleen Cooper returns to the lineup again in 2011-2012 after missing all of last season with an injury. She competed in all 19 rounds as a freshman during the team’s inaugural season. Annie Nolan also returns to the roster for her junior year, but may miss the entire season with an injury. She dropped her scoring average by more than seven shots from her freshman to sophomore seasons, and was second on the team with an 83.6 scoring mark last year. Nolan won the first individual title of any Crusader, posting a triumph at the season-opening Green Bay Invitational.
The lone freshman on the roster in 2011-2012 is A.J. Selig. A three-time Honorable Mention All-State selection, she qualified for three state championships in Wisconsin playing at Appleton West High School. Selig looks to make immediate contributions to the Valpo roster.
The Crusaders will play in five events during the fall season, including the first ever home tournament. The year begins Sept. 10 and 11 at the IU Fall Kickoff hosted by Indiana before the Brown and Gold host their first tournament ever at the Course at Aberdeen Sept. 19-20. Back-to-back trips to Indianapolis for the Tennessee State Classic and the Butler Fall Invitational take Valpo into early October before the Crusaders wrap up the fall at the Dayton Invitational.
With a new coach a talented group of returnees, and a freshman looking to make an immediate impact, Valparaiso looks for an exciting fall on the links.