Women's countdown: No. 20 South Carolina
We are counting down the top 30 women's teams heading into the fall college season.
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20. South Carolina
2012-13 Golfweek rank: 33
Go-to girl: Sophomore Sarah Schmelzel
Season outlook: The Gamecocks only lose one starter – No. 5 Meredith Swanson – from last season's team that finished 20th at the NCAA Championship, the fourth consecutive NCAA finals appearance under head coach Kalen Harris. South Carolina, as it has been prone to do under Harris, came on strong at the end of the season, when they finished third at the Southeastern Conference Championship and fourth at the NCAA West Regional.
Sophomore Sarah Schmelzel posted two top-10 finishes in 11 events last year for the Gamecocks, including a third at the Bryan National Collegiate and T-8 at the SEC Championship, landing her a spot on the SEC's All-Freshman Team. She led the team with a 74.78 scoring average.
But for South Carolina to take a step up the national ladder, the Gamecocks need consistently lower numbers from senior Suzie Lee (75.42) and junior Justine Dreher (75.47), who combined for only one top 10 a year ago (Dreher's T-3 at the SEC Championship). The other postseason starter back is sophomore Mary Fran Hillow, who will compete with senior Samantha Swinehart, sophomore Chelsea Couch and freshman Katelyn Dambaugh for playing time in the Nos. 4 and 5 slots. Don't be surprised if Dambaugh, who was the runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship and made the Round of 32 at this month's U.S. Women's Amateur, makes an immediate impact.
- Cassie Stein