Senior Alisha Matthews finished her final season with a career-best round and a Missouri Valley Conference Championship record for the lowest score in 18 holes.
“If I hadn’t have shot 67 in the last round, I would have come off of the course bawling,” Matthews said. “Right now, I’m still on the high of having my lowest career round, but it will probably sink in during the next couple of days that my playing career here is over. It’s going to be weird not having to go to practice.”
Matthews, a senior from St. Louis studying recreation, broke an MVC record set by SIU’s Braidy Hood in 2007.
Sophomore Cassie Rushing, senior Margaret Gilley and Matthews all made spots on the MVC All-Conference team. SIU had more spots on the list than any other conference school.
Matthews and two other seniors played in their last tournament Sunday to Tuesday in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Salukis tied with Northern Iowa for third. Conference champion Missouri State bested the Salukis by six strokes, and Illinois State finished in second place. A slow start Sunday in the 56-hole tournament put SIU in a rut it couldn’t pull itself out of, despite a strong finish.
Sophomores Cassie and Ashleigh Rushing both tied for their personal 54-round scoring best at SIU. Though disappointed in the loss, Cassie Rushing said despite not doing as well as she had wanted, she was glad that the first day didn’t keep the whole team from doing its best throughout the tournament.
“Starting off, our score was below average, which basically put us in seventh place.” coach Alexis Mihelich said. “We had to play catch up round two and round three; we went from seventh to fifth, and on the second day we tied for the best team score out of the 10 teams that were there.”
Mihelich will start her second year at SIU this fall. Her first year of coaching saw four first-place finishes and seven second-place victories out of the Salukis’ 11 tournament roster, with a tie for third earlier this week to top it off. She said if the team’s round two and round three scores were totaled, it would have won the tournament. SIU placed ahead of Missouri State both of those times, she said.
Mihelich said 10 players are on the roster for next fall. The four players from this year’s team said to leave will account for half of this year’s team of eight, but with three of her top five players to return, she said in light of this year’s success and team camaraderie, her second year at SIU is already off to a good start.