Stockbridge, Ga. - Freshman Maddi Caldwell posted her second-consecutive top 10 finish of the week, coming home in a tie for ninth place overall to guide Western Carolina to a fifth-place tie at the John Kirk / Panther Intercollegiate which concluded Tuesday afternoon at the par-72, 6,033-yard Eagle's Landing Country Club.
All told, the Catamounts put three of their scoring five inside the individual top 25 with a fourth -- freshman Natalia Villavicencio playing as an individual -- finishing with a 54-hole tournament best 16th-place tie. Caldwell was joined inside the top 25 by seniors Mariah Hopkins (20th-t) and Kim Mitchell (25th-t).
Caldwell finished her third round on Tuesday with a career-low score of even-par, 72, countering two bogies and one double with four birdies. The Dawsonville, Ga., native finished with a team-best eight birdies in the event while firing her career-low, 54-hole score, 224 -- a stroke better than her previous benchmark.
On Tuesday, Caldwell played much of the final round at even-par, bookending a double-bogey on the par-4 12th with pars on holes No. 11 and 13. Her final birdie of the event on the par-5 third moved her back to even-par for the round.
Hopkins again turned in a steady round, charting five bogies and 13 pars for the 5-over, 77, final round and a three-day total of 229 -- her second-lowest three-round score of the season. The Greensboro, N.C., product finished second in the tournament with 38 pars over the 54-hole tournament as WCU led the tournament with a combined 169 par, collectively.
Mitchell slipped in the individual standings with an 8-over par, 80, on Tuesday, but managed to post her fifth, top 25 finish of the year. Mitchell was 6-over par 12 holes into her round before back-to-back birdies on holes No. 16 and 17 left her at 4-over with four to play. However, the Woodbridge, Va., native finished with four-consecutive bogies to finish 8-over par.
Rounding out WCU's scoring five were juniors Ashley Thompson -- up three spots in the final standings to place tied for 30th at 232 -- and Bethany Galloway, who slid 10 spots on Tuesday into a tie for 36th overall at 233. Thompson carded seven bogies in the final round to shoot 79 while Galloway had nine for an 81.
Freshman Natalia Villavicencio -- who placed fifth in the single-round, three-team competition at The Cliffs last Thursday -- recorded her career-best tournament finish with her 54-hole, career-low tying score of 227, finishing tied for 16th overall while playing unattached as an individual. Villavicencio overcame a 4-over par start through the first four holes with consecutive birdies on holes No. 6 and 7, shooting 5-over par, 77, on the final day. The Santiago, Chile, native paced the tournament field in par-3 scoring at 2.83 (-2).
Elon (884) pulled away on Tuesday to claim the overall team championship by 12 strokes over runner-up, Western Kentucky, which bested Western Michigan by five strokes, 899-to-904. Florida Gulf Coast finished a stroke back at 905 in fourth place while WCU and Eastern Kentucky shared the fifth spot, five strokes back at 910.
Western Carolina returns to action this weekend in its final tune-up before the Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship at the Rebel Intercollegiate, hosted by the University of Mississippi at the Ole Miss Golf Course in Oxford, Miss. The 54-hole tournament will be spread over three days, April 1-3 with 18 holes of competition each day.