WINONA LAKE – Grace’s women’s golf team has wasted little time gaining relevance on a national scale.
Last year, during just its fourth year of existence, the Lady Lancers placed sixth at the NCCAA National Championships.
Head coach Denny Duncan, the only coach in program history, believes the 2019-20 Lady Lancers should be the most talented group he’s ever had. The gluttony of talent means competition for a starting spot will be tougher than ever; close to 10 players could start during any given tournament, according to Duncan.
“We have a great blend this year,” Duncan said. “We have tremendous senior leadership, depth from our upperclassmen and first-year players with talent.”
The team is led by four-year seniors Anna Marshall and Sydney Abbott. Both players have won All-Crossroads League recognition during their careers and are poised for a strong senior season.
The duo is joined by a wealth of experienced returners, including Kara Godsey, Rachel Harvey, Kristin Holt, Sarah Ganger and Olivia Shaw.
Additionally, Grace picked up its first transfer into the program. Rebecca Hawes is a sophomore from McKendree University, and she has impressed during the preseason.
But the talent does not end there. Duncan signed eight freshmen to produce a total roster of 16 players, the largest in program history.
Two of those freshmen — Lucy Young and Carolyn Pacocha — have the ability to make an “immediate and significant impact,” according to Duncan. Young is a Center Grove graduate and was one of the highest-ranked players in Indiana, and Pacocha had tremendous success at Eureka (Ill.).
In order for Grace to achieve its full potential, Duncan said the Lady Lancers will need to find consistency. Duncan has seen the team reach excellence during a few tournaments in the past, but he believes that Grace can hit that mark consistently this year.
Duncan wants his team to not only qualify for NCCAA Nationals again, but to compete for the title. Additionally, he believes that Grace has the talent to be ranked at the NAIA level and be in contention for a spot at NAIA Nationals.
“We’re beyond excited about the year. The hard work our returning players have put in over the summer is clearly evident, and we have first-year players ready to take the team to a completely new level,” Duncan said. “We believe it’s going to be a special year.”
The Lady Lancers open the season on Friday, playing at the Trine Invitational.