FRANKLIN, Ind. - Three weeks after their first trip of the fall to Ohio, the Franklin women's golf team is set to head back to Bluffton Golf Club for the two-day, 36-hole HCAC Championships this Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 12-13).
The Grizzlies had success in their first showing at Bluffton GC this fall when they finished third overall at the HCAC Preview back on Oct. 22. Four different players recorded top-20 finishes to place the Grizzlies ahead five HCAC teams at the event and eight teams overall. Sophomore Maci French led the way for the Grizzlies with a sixth-place finish and was joined by Gabi Sharp (T-12th), Jaley Schlosser (16th) and Megg Hensler (T-19th) in the top-third of all competitors.
Hensler carries the top scoring average on the team into the weekend, recording a median score of 83.2 while playing all 10 rounds this fall. The Madison, Ind.-native has racked up three top-10 finishes this fall, climbing as high as third on the leaderboard at the Earlham Invitational back on Sept. 7 that saw her fire a career-low round of 77 to open the event.
Playing in her first season with the Grizzlies, Sharp has been a consistent performer for the team this fall. The Avon, Ind.-native carries an 84.1 average into this weekend and has carded rounds between 83-86 eight times this fall. Sharp's career-low round came at the Illinois Wesleyan Invitational, when she fired an opening-round 78. Sharp has three top-10 finishes to her name this fall and one top-five finish that came at the season-opening Stateline Shootout when her 170 earned her a share of fifth overall.
Also set to compete in her first conference championship is Lebanon, Ind.-native French, who joined the program last year for the spring season. French sits third on the team with an 84.4 average through 10 rounds, but her scores have consistently been dropping over the last few events. Back at the HCAC Preview, French set a new career-best 18-hole score with a round two 79 and at the final event of the regular season last weekend, set a new 36-hole personal best with a 161 (81-80).
Schlosser is set to take part in her third career conference championship and returns to the site of a career-best effort. At the HCAC Preview, the Evansville, Ind.-native set new personal bests with a round one score of 82 and a 36-hole score of 168. Her career-best finish at the HCAC Championships came last year, when she shared 21st place. Freshman Mara Wilson and junior Mackenzie Black have traded spots in the top-five this year. Wilson has the edge in scoring average at 94.5 but Black has the experience advantage after competing in her first conference championship tournament last year.
The winner of this weekend's tournament will earn the league's automatic bid to the 2020 NCAA Division III Women's Golf Championships at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on May 12-15. The Grizzlies will be in search of their first league championship since 2012, when they won the event by 24 shots to advance to nationals.