MARBLE FALLS — Justin Schulze does not have an explanation.
After three consecutive trips to state, including top-three finishes in each of the two previous years, Lampasas’ head coach cannot describe what happened to his team during Monday’s opening round of the UIL Class 4A Girls Golf State Championship.
Coming off district- and regional-title runs comprised of four sub-350 rounds, the Lady Badgers posted a score of 380 at Slick Rock Golf Course at Horseshoe Bay, placing them sixth overall.
Following the performance, Schulze was admittedly baffled by the display.
“It was just one of those days where not much went right,” he said. “I don’t know what it was. In golf, sometimes you struggle, and I had several that all struggled on the same day.
“When you’re playing on a good golf course and don’t deliver, that’s what happens.”
With four players shooting at least a 95, Lampasas must drastically improve in order to repeat the success of 2016, when the Lady Badgers finished second at state.
Niki Terry, a senior, delivered the team’s lowest score, posting an 86, while Taylor Florio (95), Allison Harrell (99) and Allison Hendrick (100) followed. Kristen Richards completed Lampasas’ scoring with a 109.
Fourteen-time champion Andrews, which is responsible for the last six consecutive state titles, holds a commanding lead after shooting a 334, and the Lady Mustangs’ second team is second (355). Rounding out the top three is Seminole with a 357.
Salado sits two spots behind the Lady Badgers at eighth following a first-round score of 384 as Kristin Crouch’s 84 placed her 15th individually.
Having helped the Lady Eagles to a second-place finish at the 2014 Class 2A state tournament as a freshman, Crouch believes the previous experience is invaluable.
“I think that helped a lot,” she said. “I knew from the start what it was going to be like, how so many people would be following me and how everyone surrounds the first tee box when they announce your name.
“It can be super stressful to have to deal with that.”
Salado junior Jamie Rich complemented the outing with a 96, while teammates Taylor Rich and Avery Hyer produced identical scores of 102, and Savannah Reeder shot a 108.
Unlike Crouch, none of the other Lady Eagles performed on such a grand stage prior to Monday, and Salado head coach Scott Ringo believes today’s round will be much easier mentally if nothing else.
“The more you play a golf course,” he said, “and the more familiar you get with things, the better you get.
“I fully expect Jamie to have a score similar to Kristin’s today. I saw a few uncharacteristic putts on her part today.”
Both teams return to the course today for the tournament’s final round with each squad’s first player teeing off at 8:50 a.m.
While Schulze lacked a reason for the first-round score, he expects today will hold a different result for the Lady Badgers.
“It would not surprise me one bit to see them come out and play quite a bit better,” Schulze said. “Confidence is key, and we had rough start that got things off a little shaky.
“If we can get things going the way we want from the beginning, there is no telling what score we have the ability to shoot.”
CLASS 4A GIRLS STATE TOURNAMENT
At Slick Rock GC, Horseshoe Bay
1. Andrews (Black) 334
2. Andrews (Gold) 355
3. Seminole 357
4. Fredericksburg 367
5. La Vernia 373
6. Lampasas 380
7. Mabank 381
8. Salado 384
1. Maddi Olson, Abilene Wylie 70
2. Brooke Irion, Bridgeport 76
2. Rachel Huffman, Andrews (Black) 76
4. Olivia Mitchell, Frisco Lebanon Trail 78
4. Steelie Priest, Lorena 78
15. Kristin Couch, Salado 84
T16. Niki Terry, Lampasas 86