Coming off a national championship in the 2017-18 season and a national championship appearance in the 2018-19 season, the University of Indianapolis Women’s Golf team has wrapped up the first half of their 2019-20 season ranked first in the nation in Division II. Assistant Coach Kacey Dalpes said the team has had success this season due to team bonding, individual success and practice strategies.
“A lot of practice goes into hitting on the range, so that they’re comfortable with their swings and once we get out there, they’ve done all the work,” Dalpes said.
Playing in five tournaments this season, the team has won every D2 tournament that they have been in. They have also competed at two D1 tournaments where they placed ninth and 13th. During the UIndy Invitational, both senior Pilar Echeverria and freshman Hunter Nugent tied for second place according to UIndy Athletics. At the William Beal Fall Classic, senior Cailyn Henderson placed first. Echeverria and Henderson tied for first at the Music City Invitational, According to UIndy Athletics, the duo tied in breaking the 36-hole school record by three strokes.
“[We] focus a lot on hitting greens,” Dalpes said. “Statistics have found that the more greens you hit leads to a better score in general. This semester [we] have been focusing on short game a lot, try to keep it simple for the girls so they can have fun and have an easy goal to accomplish.”
The first of the D1 tournaments was the Bettie Lou Evans Invitational, hosted by the University of Kentucky. The team finished ninth out of 13 teams with Echeverria taking the win in the 75 player field. Echeverria said that since she has played all around the world, the D1 tournaments are not as daunting.
“It’s just the mindset you go into it and try to keep yourself calm… just do your thing, don’t change anything, it’s just another tournament at the end,” Echeverria said.
Their second D1 tournament, The Battle of the Beach hosted by Texas Christian University, took place at San José del Cabo, Mexico and wrapped up their season. According to UIndy Athletics, the team finished 14 out of 16 teams and was the only D2 school at the event. Echeverria said that the coaches do a great job preparing the team for tournaments.
“I think coach emphasizes a lot [to] do our thing,” Echeverria said. “Don’t compare yourself to the other players and if we play our game, we’ll be fine. Because we play Division 1 tournaments and sometimes, I remember my freshman year, I was kind of scared but then you see that if you play your game at [the] end it’s going to be fine. You can’t compete against them.”
Echeverria was selected as the D2 Women’s Golf Coaches Association player of the year in 2018 and she is ranked second in the nation.
“Pilar [Echeverria] is a very good leader, both on the course and off the course,” Dalpes said. “She always does the right things and she really pushes the girls, and they look up to her.”
The success comes from the dynamic that they have, Echeverria said, they are all close and supportive of each other on and off the field.