"Range Rat" Leads Tigers Into NCAA Play

Auburn, Ala.--SEC Women's Golfer of the Year Candace Schepperle says she likes her team's chances of advancing to the nationals as the Tigers head to Gainesville, Fla., for the NCAA East Regional Tournament at the University of Florida Course.

Auburn is one of 21 teams at the regional vying to be one of the eight squads from the three-day tournament that will advance to the NCAA Championships later this month in Maryland. The Tigers, who are ranked seventh nationally, are the number two seed in the region behind Virginia. Competition will run Thursday through Saturday.

"We are playing awesome," Schepperle tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I think we have a good high going into regionals and nationals. I have nothing but confidence in what we are going to accomplish."

The Tigers have reasons to be confident. In their last outing they won the SEC Championship. In their last trip to the University of Florida course earlier this season, the Tigers won the Lady Gator Invitational title while playing in challenging weather.

"We have a good vibe coming from a win there," Schepperle says. "Obviously, it was very tough conditions when we last played."

How tough was it. "Forty miles per hour winds," Schepperle points out. "It was really windy and cold and kind of miserable."

Commenting on the layout in Gainesville, the All-SEC junior says, "It's a tricky course, but it is manageable as long as you play smart."

Schepperle says she is still excited about her team winning the SEC title. "I told Coach (Kim Evans) before coming to Auburn I wanted a couple of rings and I am excited to finally get one and walk on that (football) field. I am so proud that my team came out and we took care of business the last day. It was a lot of fun."

Evans says she likes this season's team and notes that Schepperle is playing the best golf of her career.

"I think that not many people know this, but for her freshman and sophomore years she was probably one round away each tournament from having those great years," the coach says. "I knew it was a matter of time--it was just when it was.

"I think when she walked away from nationals last year, I think she looked back and might have even said, ‘You know what, this isn't going to happen anymore.'

"She works harder than anyone," Evans says of Schepperle. "She is a range rat. She is on the back of the range practicing a lot of different kinds of shots, learning different kind of shots and loving learning those shots. I think she said it best, she just really loves every part of her game right now and that comes from hard work and confidence. She has been a great leader because she has led by example."

Candace Schepperle's improvement in putting has helped her have her best collegiate season as a junior.

Schepperle has been among the national leaders all season in strokes per round average. "It is finally coming together," the junior says. "My game has just kind of blossomed a little bit. Everything is working together. I put in a lot of hard work hard in the last couple of years, and last summer, and it is kind of showing off."

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