Clay Sidenbender | Echo
Despite sophomore Nicole Jung earning her sixth individual collegiate win, Taylor lost the Clash at Crosswinds tournament last Saturday in Savannah, Georgia.
Taylor tied Faulkner University at 58 shots over par for first place in the nine-team tournament. To decide the winner both teams competed in a 10-man playoff. Faulkner outplayed Taylor on the second hole of the playoff to claim the trophy.
"She hit a really bad tee shot," coach Cameron Andry said of Jung. "She had to kind of hit a recovery shot under the trees. (The ball) hit the tree and bounced back. She ended up hitting a double (bogey)."
Andry said Jung's frustration and emotion after her performance in the playoff showcased her heart. She cared more about how the team performed than her own performance.
Taylor had never played in a team playoff prior to Crosswinds, so the team was nervous. However, junior Maddie Thomas said the team benefitted from the experience.
"We had a crowd following us . . . and first place was on the line," Thomas said. "It was a good experience and I think there's a lot of growth and also, a lot of . . . positive things that we took away from it."
Jung finished at three shots over par, claiming first place with a four-shot lead. Thomas shot 16 over par, tying for seventh place.
Due to unpredictable weather conditions, Andry said Taylor practiced inside for much of the offseason. He expected his team to play at their best, but not everyone did.
"I played with Taylor (French) and Annie Stimmel on Wednesday in practice and both of them just played gorgeous golf," Andry said. "And, they did not play as well in the tournament."
Sophomore Taylor French shot 21 over par and tied for 17th place with senior Elizabeth Jackson. Junior Annie Stimmel tied senior Raquel Helton for 36th place, shooting 28 over par.
On the reserve team, freshman Annie Eisenbarth tied for 28th place, shooting 24 over par. Sophomore Rachel Coers shot 32 over par and junior Alexis Harris shot 40 over par.
"You know, we were down 13 shots going into the final round and I told them, 'No disrespect to Faulkner, but they're not going to play like they did yesterday again today. … '" Andry said. "And we did (comeback). Nicole's great play obviously helped."
Taylor will host the Purgatory Intercollegiate starting today at Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville, Indiana. Andry said the weather is supposed to be rainy both today and tomorrow.
But Andry said he believes his team has the upperhand over opponents in dreary conditions. According to Taylor Athletics, Taylor won the 2016 Crossroads League Championship in cold, windy conditions. In September 2018, they won the Battle at Blackthorn in what Andry called brutal conditions.
"Honestly, it just comes down to some mental fortitude," Andry said. "Do you have the grit to actually not let some nasty weather dictate your mood and put you in a bad frame of mind?"
The first round of the Purgatory Intercollegiate tournament starts at 10:30 a.m. today. The sound round of the tournament starts tomorrow at 9 a.m.