By Murray Evans
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2012) – Oklahoma Christian will have to wait for the university’s elusive first team national championship in a women’s sport, but the Lady Eagles raised the bar a bit higher in the National Christian College Athletic Association Invitational.
The Lady Eagles entered Tuesday in second place and overcame a rough start at The Hombre Golf Club to remain in that position. OC posted a team score of 317 for a two-round total of 629, 16 shots behind the champion, Dallas Baptist (Texas).
The second-place national finish is the best ever for an OC women’s team in any sport, surpassing the third-place NAIA finish by the women’s tennis team in May. Two OC players made the eight-woman NCCAA All-America team – sophomore Anna Arrese Cortadellas, who finished fourth, and junior Catherine Odgers, who tied for sixth.
“We gave it a good shot,” OC coach Greg Lynn said. “We just didn’t play as a team. I’m not disappointed in the girls. They all tried as hard as they could try. Sometimes that’s not good enough. Probably the better team won.”
Dallas Baptist, OC’s Heartland Conference rival, led the Lady Eagles by eight shots after Monday’s first round. It quickly became apparent Tuesday that OC wasn’t going to catch the Patriots and instead would have to focus on holding off Shorter (Ga.) for third place.
In the first six holes, Shorter rallied from 10 shots behind OC to trail the Lady Eagles by just one shot. The normally steady Arrese Cortadellas started bogey-double bogey-bogey and never made a run at medalist honors, finishing at 6-over-par 78 for the day and 153 for the tournament, eight shots behind the individual winner, Erin Barrington of DBU.
Arrese Cortadellas wasn’t the only OC player who struggled early. On the front nine, the Lady Eagles had 18 scores of bogey or worse and just four birdies, two of those by freshman Audrey Meisch.
But the Lady Eagles steadied the ship on the back nine as Shorter – which finished seven shots ahead of OC in the NAIA Championship in May – fell back with its own difficulties. The Lady Eagles eventually finished with a nine-shot edge in the race for second place. It was the seventh time in the program’s 15-tournament history that OC has finished as a runner-up.
“The pins were tough, but we just got off to a horrible start,” Lynn said. “That pretty much tells the story. It’s very difficult out there. We were looking for balls on every hole. The delays were unbelievable as a result.”
Odgers shot an 80 on the 5,904-yard layout on The Hombre’s Bad and Good courses to finish at 157. Meisch’s 80 gave her an overall score of 159 and a career-best ninth-place finish. Sarah Harper’s 79 was a two-shot improvement over the first round and she tied for 10th at 160.
Morgan Dockery struggled to a 95 and finished 37th in the 51-woman field at 176.
The Lady Eagles will be off until the spring season begins in February.