Mesa State freshmen hope to mesh with upperclassmen

The Mesa State College golf team has three new freshmen playing this season. From left to right are Jessica Berve, AFton Balling and Jennifer Hilts.

Sadie Peavler-Farnsworth has found herself in a completely different role this year.

After three years of being one of the youngest golfers on the Mesa State College team, the senior is the oldest and the only one with more than four tournaments of experience.

“She’s pretty much our mom,” said Afton Balling, one of three freshmen on the team this year.

“She explains things,” said another freshman, Jennifer Hilts, of Peavler. “That’s nice to have. It would be chaotic and unorganized (without Peavler).”

With the fall season under their belt, Balling, Hilts and Jessica Berve are ready to step out and lead the Mavericks as they begin the spring season today in the Western New Mexico Intercollegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Hopefully, they will be better,” Mesa State coach Scott Hansen said. “It’s hard with no depth and no one to push them. They did get a taste of it and know what to expect now. That’s a big step for them. They won’t be surprised by anything out there. They realize they can play with these girls and not be intimidated.”

Peavler, who married three months ago, led the team in scoring in one tournament last fall. Her average round of 82 is only one stroke better than each of the three freshmen.

Balling, Berve and Hilts are all averaging 83 with eight rounds of experience.

Junior Brittani White will play regularly this spring as well. The Central High School graduate split time with Dana Anderson for the fifth spot in tournaments last fall. Anderson, a nursing major, has decided to focus on school.

White played four rounds and has an average of 95.

“Skill wise, I think this is the best team Mesa has ever has in my four years,” Peavler said. “We haven’t had a fifth on the team for a full year, but if we did, someone can have a bad day and it wouldn’t hurt you (as a team). Hopefully Brittani can do it.

“We’re all within three or four strokes of each other. By the time the freshmen are seniors, they should be really good.”

Hilts, who is from Bend, Ore., led the Mavericks to their first team title last fall with a two-round total of 157. It was her best outing in Mesa’s four tournaments. She was the RMAC golfer of the week for her efforts.

That team win vaulted Mesa from fourth into a tie for third with Western New Mexico. RMAC affiliate members Fort Hays State (Kan.) University and Montana State-Billings are tied for first.

“Jen hits the ball a long ways,” Hansen said. “She is a powerful player. She needs to get the curve out of her shots. She tends to draw the ball and it turns into a hook. She needs to be more accurate. She does everything else well.”

Berve, who is from Farmington, N.M., led Mesa State in its first tournament last fall and scored one stroke better in the second round each tournament.

“Jess has the potential to improve quite a bit,” Hansen said. “Her swing is good, but the thing with her is raising the expectations of her game. She has more ability than I think she realizes.”

Balling, who is from Cody, Wyo., improved her scores from the first tournament to the third tournament, but had a setback in the fourth.

“Afton is very steady,” Hansen said. “I know what we’ll get from her each time. I’d like to see her make a change in her swing and hit it further. If she can gain some distance, that will help her scores. The rest of her game is good.”

If the three can put their games together in time for the RMAC Championships next month, the Mavericks could find themselves receiving a NCAA Division II Super Regional berth in May.


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