FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Northern Arizona University's golf team is coming off a spectacular season after winning the Big Sky Conference championship and competing at the NCAA tournament. This year's team will miss the leadership and talent of Stephanie Kim who graduated this past spring. Kim was a major part of that championship team from last year and an all-time great for the NAU golf program.
"She can't be replaced but we have to try to get people to step up to fill the void of her being gone", said Head Coach Brad Bedortha.
Bedortha, the reigning Big Sky Conference Golf Coach of the Year, has a group of returners and newcomers that he is very excited about.
"We definitely have a good team coming back," said Bedortha. "We have some solid returners and players coming in that should be able to step right into some roles."
Two players in particular, senior Kaitlen Parsons and sophomore Savana Bezdicek, will play a major role this season. Parsons, a Second Team All-Big Sky selection last season, is the lone senior in the group and will look to finish out her career strong. At last year's Big Sky Conference Championship Parsons finished tied for second leading NAU golf to its first Big Sky Championship since the 2008-09 season. Parsons scored at an average of 76.53 on the season last year, scoring a season best 68 at the Mountain View Collegiate Tournament.
"Parsons is a great person and great player. She is ready to take her game to the next level and really have a breakout year." said Bedortha.
Bezdicek, the reigning Big Sky Freshman of the Year, will also look to continue her stellar play. A First Team All-Big Sky selection last season, the sophomore is expected to have a great impact this season. Bezdicek scored at an average of 77.03 as she won two tournaments individually including the Rio Verde Invitational scoring rounds of 71 and 73.
"Savanna had a great freshman year and played some great golf for us," said Bedortha."I definitely think she'll come back and have a strong season for us."
Also returning are juniors Susana Mejia, Melissa Olson and Laura Jabczenski. Mejia competed in eight tournaments during her sophomore campaign scoring an average of 81.52. The junior finished a season best third at the Quail Run Invitational and scored a season best 77 in the second round of the Grand Canyon Women's Invitational. Olson competed in seven tournaments scoring an average of 80.94. She scored a season best 75 in the second round of the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic. Jabczenski scored an average of 81.52 during her sophomore season including a season best 76 in the second round of the Oregon State Invitational.
"She is a player that I think will definitely step in and compete right off the back," said Bedortha.
Sottile comes to NAU after finishing a great high school career at La Reina High School (Thousand Oaks, Calif.). The freshman led her team to three Tri-Valley League championships during her four year career while being voted first team Tri-Valley League all four years of her career.
"I think Sottile has all the ability in the world it's just going to take her some time to figure it out, but I'm excited," Bedortha said.
When asked about his goals for the upcoming season Bedortha said, "With two new players coming in and two leaving the first thing starting out would be to get the team some good unity and chemistry, but obviously our goal is to win the conference championship."
The NAU Golf team will open up its season on September 23rd in Wolcott, Colo. at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.