Coming off a strong third-place team finish in the Battle at The Rock at Oak Quarry Golf Club, UCR sent sophomore Jakeishya Le and junior Julia Sander to the CBU Invitational on Monday, Feb. 20 to Tuesday, Feb. 21. Both Highlanders performed well on the par-72 course as Le finished second overall in individual scoring with a first round 1-over-par and a second round 2-over-par and Sander finished tied for seventh place with a 3-over-par followed by a 4-over-par.
While this tournament only featured two Highlanders, it was just as important as as any other team tournament, as the results of this tournament determined who would fill in the fifth competition spot on travel roster. Le, mind you, is coming off of a sensational freshman season and she had to battle for the final roster spot, illustrating that this team has the best problem to have: Depth.
UCR Head Coach Mary Ritchie acknowledged her team’s depth after their performance at Oak Quarry, saying, “We’re seeing glimpses of amazing stuff, and it’s not just coming from just one player. When you see your B team beat the A team in round one you gotta (sic) think, ‘Wow this team has some good depth.’” In fact, this team’s widespread talent has forced the Highlanders to use an “A” and “B” team this late into the year while most schools already have their conference tournament team determined. Assumably, Le will round out the travel team that will consist of seniors Paris Griffith, Haley Wian and Yuri Ahn and junior Hannah Facchini but Ritchie admits she has, “No clue who the lineup is going to be for the conference (Big West) tournament.”
Compounding on the depth this Highlander team possesses, Ritchie also believes her team had a wake-up call after their poor play in the first round of the Battle At The Rock Tournament where they shot a 325, their highest round all year. While tough conditions played a factor in the high score, Ritchie asserted it was an opportunity for her team to see that, “We have to be ready right out of the gate.” If not for the 325 first round, the Highlanders likely would have won the entire tournament since they shot an event-best 288 in the second round, which vaulted them from last to fourth place. The Highlanders certainly expected different results on their own home course at Oak Quarry, but Ritchie pointed out that while her team practices on that course frequently, they do not compete on it often. “Competition golf is different from practice golf or casual golf,” explained Ritchie, and she stressed to her team that being too relaxed in an opening round is just as bad being too focused, as she summed it up best with the advice she always gives her team, “You can’t win a tournament on the first day, but you can lose it.”
Going forward through the season and into the conference tournament, the Highlanders have plenty of time to get themselves firing on all cylinders with two months and five more tournaments until the Big West Tournament, which just so happens to be at the one and only Oak Quarry Golf Club.
UC Riverside is back in action on Monday, Feb. 27 through Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Gold Rush Invitational in Long Beach. Tee-off is set for 8 a.m.