By BRETT MARSHALL
With no teams outside of the Western Athletic Conference competing on Thursday at Willow Tree Golf Course during the Liberal Invitational, the Garden City High School Lady Buffaloes golf team swept past its WAC opponents in convincing fashion.
The 9-hole tournament, contested on the par-36 layout, saw senior Abbi Shaddix continue her torrid play by shooting a 3-under-par 33 to win by six shots and help the Lady Buffs to a 168 total, 15 shots clear of runner-up Hays (183). Dodge City (203), Great Bend (208) and Liberal (216) rounded out the team scores.
For coach Melinda Base, one of the pleasant surprises came from Megan Steward, whose 3-over 39 was good for second place as she shot her lowest competitive round.
"All day she kept saying that she was playing well, and she usually doesn't say much," Base said of Steward. "It's great to see her playing up to her potential."
But that wasn't all for the Lady Buffs as Lindsay Bradstreet shot a 45 and took fifth place to help GCHS to its team triumph.
It was Shaddix, though, who led the way.
"Abbi played so well today, and considering how windy it was, I was pretty shocked at the scores we had," Base said. "I was pleased with the way they battled and came through."
Hannah Leiker's 51 rounded out the four scores that counted for the Lady Buffs. Danielle Gaspar and Kendra Martin came in with a 52 and 56, respectively.
"Lindsay's group had some rough holes and I think if she had been in a different group where they could have played a little quicker, she would have shot better, too," Base said. "Taking that into consideration, I thought she played well."
Developing depth and seeing the younger players improve provides some confidence as the team heads toward the postseason in a few weeks.
"With these kinds of scores, I now feel we can move forward and compete with other teams," Base said.
Hays High's Lexi Schaben and Katy Brungardt each shot 43s to take third and fourth place.
Next up for the Lady Buffs will be Wednesday at the Wichita Northwest Invitational, which will be played at Sim Park Golf Course. A year ago, Shaddix blistered the course with a 5-under-par 66, to claim the NW title. On Thursday, the team will travel to the Hutchinson Invitational.