BLANCO, Texas -- The Ball State women's golf team climbed two spots Monday to finish in sixth place out of 12 teams in its spring season opener at the Jim West Challenge.
Autumn Duke recorded the Cardinals' best round of the day with a 5-over par 77 to move into 18th place on the final individual leaderboard. She was the Cardinals' top finisher for the tournament with a 54-hole score of 239 (83-79-77).
The Cardinals finished just two strokes out of fourth place as a team with a score of 968 (330-313-325) on a bunched leaderboard. Teams four through nine in the final standings were separated by a total of eight shots on the par-72, 6,216-yard layout at Vaaler Creek Golf Club.
Ball State finished directly ahead of three teams that entered the tournament with higher rankings -- Eastern Michigan, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State.
Tournament host Texas State held onto its overnight lead to win the event for the fifth straight year with a 54-hole team total of 930. East Tennessee State finished second at 949, followed by North Texas in third at 960.
Texas State also had the individual medalist in Iman Nordin, who carded an 11-over par total of 227 and climbed from an eighth-place tie entering the day with an even-par final round.
"The greens were very challenging," Ball State coach Katherine Mowat said. "They were fast, and there was a lot of wind. Even if you were playing well, a wind gust or a tough pin could bite you."
The Cardinals joined the two highest ranked teams in the field -- tournament champion Texas State and runner-up East Tennessee State -- as the only teams to place all five golfers in the top 40.
Ball State freshman Karley Dobis competed as an individual this week and tied for 51st with a 54-hole score of 257 (82-86-89).
"We had hopes of performing better this week, but we have a lot of season ahead of us," Mowat said. "This was our first event of the spring, and we will get better as it warms up and we get more practice on the course."The Cardinals will return to action March 8-10, traveling to Arizona to compete in the Rio Verde Collegiate Invitational hosted by Western Michigan.