Despite battling adversity throughout the fall season, the Ball State women’s golf team still managed to pick up three wins in its five fall events.
A week before the Cardinals were scheduled to compete in the Ball State-hosted Cardinal Classic, captain Autumn Duke’s father died in a motorcycle accident.
It was a Sunday morning when the team first learned about the death of Larry “The Duke” Duke.
“Our coach told us that morning, and all of a sudden golf almost became secondary,” junior Meghan Perry said.
Duke’s father was very close with the team, which had stayed at the Duke’s home in Fishers, Ind., numerous times.
Despite the tragedy, Duke, a senior, still competed at the home tournament.
“That tournament took on a whole new meaning,” Perry said. “We were now playing mainly for Autumn and for each other.”
The team finished first at the Sept. 22-23 event with four out of the five starters — senior Zoe Camus, Duke, Perry and sophomore Jenna Hague — finishing in the top five. Hague finished first overall and was named Mid-American Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week.
“That tournament brought us close together as a team,” sophomore Jenna Hague said. “At that tournament, golf was the escape.”
The adversity didn’t end there.
Sunday, before the Cardinals were to compete in the Santa Clara-hosted SCU Colby Invitational in San Jose, Calif., the team’s van was robbed in a parking lot in San Francisco.
The Cardinals had two days of site seeing and team bonding, coach Katherine Mowat said. After touring Golden Gate Bridge, Perry found glass next to the team’s van.
“I was the first one back to the van,” Perry said. “It was around noon, and I noticed glass on the ground next to our car.”
Perry said she reached and successfully opened one of the passenger doors without a key.
“I remember hearing coach [Mowat] behind me saying something like, ‘How can she open that without a key?’” Perry said. “Then I looked up and saw the hole in the window and our bags missing.”
The team was robbed of around $15,000 worth of possessions, including golf balls and team equipment. Most of the items stolen, though, were personal items of the players, such as books, credit cards, etc.
If anything positive came from the incident in September, it was the ability for the team to cope with this situation.
“Of all of us, the calmest person was Autumn,” Hague said. “These were just material goods to us, nothing compared to what happened just a month and a half ago.”
Ball State rebounded quickly and despite missing most of its practice round, won the SCU Colby Invitational.
“There was probably 10 seconds of crying, but then we got back together and started calling people — the airline, the rental car place,” Perry said.
In all, the Cardinals competed in five tournaments, finishing first in three of them, including three wins by individuals. Hague won two of the tournaments while Perry won the other.
Ball State now enters the off-season before it kicks off the season again in February for the spring campaign. The Cardinals are scheduled to play in tournaments in Texas, Indiana, Arkansas, Michigan and the Mid-American Conference tournament in Ohio.