Feb. 28, 2001
The Washington State women's golf team experienced a dream season in 2000. They smashed individual and school records, raked in accolades for their work on the course and in the classroom, and to top it off, became the first Cougar golf team to reach the postseason.
Things were looking good for head coach Walt Williams heading into the 2000-2001 season, too. Five of the team's top six players were returning, including All-Pac-10 selection, Jennifer Dodd, and second leading scorer Tasha Browner. Sophomores Donna Bell and Shanelle Roberts, integral components of WSU's run to the NCAA West Regional in 2000, were also returning battle-tested.
"We were losing Jenny Ballou, who was like the mother hen of this team last year," Williams said. "So I knew there would be an adjustment period. But I really felt that this team could be even better than last year."
In September, Williams instincts were confirmed. Dodd, Browner, Bell, Roberts and junior Becky Greggain started off the season in record-breaking fashion. Team records for single round and tournament scoring fell at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, as Browner, Greggain, Dodd, and Bell combined for a 298 in the second round, and a 900 for 54-holes. Browner fired a 67 in the same event, eclipsing Kelly Wilson's school mark of 69 set in 1997.
A week later, the wheels fell off for Williams and the Cougars. The fall seasons for Bell and Roberts were over, as they fell to the effects of mononucleosis. The absence of the sophomore duo forced the coaching staff to go with an even younger lineup, featuring true freshman Emily De'Ath of Hendersonville, Nev., and sophomore Jackie Stevens, who played in only three events as a freshman.
Williams feels losing Bell and Roberts may have been a blessing in disguise for his younger players.
"While our younger players were in the lineup and getting their experience, they played pretty good," Williams said. "Now we have seven good players, and it's going to be tough to leave some of them home."
Bell and Roberts will be back at 100 percent for the final stretch of the season, but that wasn't the only good news the Cougars received heading into winter semester. Natalie Bratkowski, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, was cleared to play for Washington State in January. Twice named New Zealand's top junior player, Bratkowski could be an instant impact performer.
"She has a great short game and hits the ball very solid," Williams said. "She is very competitive and has a good chance of coming in and contributing right away."
Like the men's team, the Washington State women are in 16th place in Division Eight. They will need to harness all of their talent to make a second straight appearance at the NCAA West Regional. The question still remains for Williams, who is going to play?
"Obviously Jennifer (Dodd) and Tasha (Browner) are going to be in there," Williams said. "After that combination, I don't know. It's a nice predicament to be in and it's something that I've never had. They are going to push each other and that will be good for the team."
Back at full strength, another dream season could be in store for the Cougars.
SCORING AVERAGE - Fall 2000
Tasha Browner Jr. 76.06
Jennifer Dodd Sr. 77.4
Donna Bell So. 79.6
Shanelle Roberts So. 80.5
Emily De'Ath Fr. 80.6
Becky Greggain Jr. 81.4
Jackie Stevens So. 82.8