NORMAL, Ill. -- A late push in Monday’s final round lifted Jenna Hague to medalist honors and the Ball State women's golf team to a second-place finish at the season-opening Redbird Invitational.
Hague posted a third-round 73 and matched the Ball State 54-hole scoring record at 1-under par 215 for the tournament. She birdied two of her final three holes to grab a one-stroke victory over round-two leader Lily Bartell of Bowling Green.
Teammate Meghan Perry gave the Cardinals a pair of top-10 finishers, tying for seventh place at 6-over 222. Perry, whose 54-hole total was the best of her career, carded a 77 in the closing round at the Weibring Golf Club.
Ball State also counted a 75 from Mary Welch and an 80 from Karley Dobis on the final day to post a team score of 305, which was good enough to jump Bowling Green by one shot for second place in the final standings.
The Cardinals ended with a three-round total of 902, finishing second only to Toledo's 890.
“It definitely was not as easy today as it was yesterday,” Hague said. “But when I had to hit the shots, for the most part I did. Toward middle to the end of our round, our team was making a move up leaderboard, too. We all knew every stroke really mattered, and it was a good feeling to finish well.”
A bogey on the 17th, Hague's 15th hole of the day, left her trailing by one stroke with three holes to play. But the junior from Ontario posted back-to-back birdies at the par-5 18th and the par-4 first to grab the lead. A par on her final hole, the second, sealed her fifth collegiate victory, extending her own school record.
“Jenna and Meghan are just so solid for us,” Ball State coach Katherine Mowat said. “It was fun to have them in contention all day. We knew we would have to play very well today to win the tournament. Toledo wasn’t giving anything up. We didn’t have our best round today overall, but it was good enough to move up.”
Welch played a major role in Ball State’s jump to second place. The final-round 75 for the former Wisconsin-Stevens Point transfer was the best of her Ball State career. She made nine consecutive pars on the back nine to solidify her round.
Welch improved her score each round of the tournament and finished in a tie for 36th place at 235, while Sarah Westaway was one shot behind her in a tie for 41st at 236. Dobis rounded out the Ball State lineup with a three-round total of 241.
“We lost two starters from last year, so we had two golfers in the lineup for the first time in Mary and Karley,” Mowat said. “Both of them came through at different times. Mary’s performance on the back nine today was just so solid. We knew she had the game; this week she got the opportunity to get into the lineup, and she showed she's a competitor.”
Kelsey Sear, who competed in the tournament as an individual, ended with a score of 242.
This week’s tournament was the first of five events on Ball State’s fall schedule. The team is back in action next week at Louisville’s Cardinal Cup, which begins Monday, Sept. 16 at The Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, Ky.