One intangible has been lacking from previous Lady Seminole squads, experience. Last year’s team featured two juniors, five sophomores, three freshman and no seniors. Turning the clocks ahead one year tells a different story. Although their is only one senior on this year’s squad, several of the younger players saw significant action last year. This year’s top five will feature one senior and four juniors that played together in all but two tournaments.
For the first time in over a decade, the Lady Seminoles return the top five players from the previous year. This year’s team , complete with experience in tournament play, features one senior, five juniors and one sophomore that participated in tournaments last season.
“This team is very confident,” stated Dillman. “We have the experience to return to the NCAA Championships and the confidence to do so. This is the first time in a long time that I have had a group stay together from one year to the next.”
The goals continue to be the same for this year’s team. The Lady Seminoles will set out to qualify for Regional play and a trip to the NCAA Championships. This road will prove to be a difficult one, as the district teams have improved immensely over the course of the last year. Couple that improvement with the loss of one qualifying spot from their district.
“This year will be as difficult as ever in regards to qualifying for the Regional tournament,” said Dillman. “Because the district struggled the last five to six years, we lost a spot in the East Regional tournament. Now all the teams are solid and we will have to play extremely well to qualify.”
The top player for the Lady Seminoles as they finish out the fall season and move into the spring is Amy Bond. Bond, a junior from Ocala, FL, led the Lady Seminoles in five tournaments last season. She also led the team with seven top 15 finishes and a stroke average of 76.9 in ten tournaments.
“Amy has the potential to be an All-American at Florida State,” commented head coach Debbie Dillman. “She has all the physical tools and now she has added the mental toughness that it takes to be successful and win tournaments.”
The remaining four spots in the line-up are interchangeable. One of the interchangeable components in Erika Iding. Iding, a junior from Lansing, MI, came to the Lady Seminole program last season after a one-year stint at the University of Arkansas. Finishing last season with a stroke average of 80.0, Iding’s best finish was a tied for 15th performance at the Ryder-Florida State Championship.
“Erika spent a lot of time this summer on her game,” said Dillman. “She wasn’t happy with playing the four or five spot each week, so she really improved her game and we look for her to be a solid contributor to this year’s team.”
One of the brightest spots of the summer was junior Amy Spooner. Spooner, a native of Margate, FL, was a semifinalist at the U.S. Public Links Championship and received medalist honors at the regional qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Amateur this summer. Spooner played in every tournament last year, finishing with a stroke average of 79.2 and three top 15 finishes.
“For Amy, it is a matter of confidence,” commented Dillman. “I know that she has the tools, but now she knows that she can do it. She is looking ahead to the good days that are in front of her instead of thinking about the bad days.”
The lone senior on this year’s squad is quiet leader Aguri Okura. Okura is a three-year contributor that led the Tribe in three tournaments, including her personal-best 2nd place finish at the Ryder-Florida State Championships. She also was selected as a member of the Academic All-American team for the second consecutive season.
“Aguri is a quiet leader for this team,” said Dillman. “She is a leader on and off the course and leads by example each time that she goes out.”
The final member of the top 5 line-up in Sarah Capie of Carterville, IL. Playing in all 29 rounds last year, Capie had two top 15 finishes and led the Lady Seminoles at the Lady Seminole Invitational with a tied for 14th performance. Capie, an Academic All-American following last season, is a solid contributor for the Lady Seminoles.
“I think that this group really has the opportunity to do some things this year,” stated Dillman. “They are confident in themselves and they know the golf courses that they are playing this year, which will give us an advantage.”
A large group of underclassmen will attempt to crack the line-up before the year is out. The best candidates for playing time are junior Kelly Hoffmeyer and freshman Louise Wright. Hoffmeyer,a fourth-year player from Michigan, played in two tournaments as an individual last year and played the ACC Championships, finishing in 20th place. Wright, a true frehsman from Suffolk, England, comes to Florida State after a very successful amateur career in England. Wright was selected to the England Elite Squad and made the top 16 in England for the last two years. Stacy Burgin, Laura Kowalski, J.J. Swindle, Betsy Jaeger along with freshmen Kelley Winship and Bette Lynn Carswell will contend for time over the course of the year.
As with the mark of any good program, the Lady Seminoles will once again play a difficult tournament schedule. Starting with the Lady Seminole Inviational and concluding with the ACC Championships, the Tribe will play the best teams in the Southeast and East regions. The ACC Championships continues to be one of the premier conference tournaments in the country. This year’s tournament will return to Greensboro, NC after a one-year hiatus.
The Lady Seminoles will once again contend for postseason play with one of the deepest teams in history. Returning the top five golfers from a year ago and adding young talent, this Lady Seminole team has the ability and confidence to return to the NCAA Championships.