Cortadellas pushes Lady Eagles into third in NCCAA Championship

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 29, 2014) – Anna Arrese Cortadellas’ excellence in tournament after tournament has become almost expected through the years for Oklahoma Christian. She put on another showcase this week at the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship.

The senior from Barcelona earned All-America honors for the fourth time by posting her fourth top-four national finish in as many years, a second-place showing that keyed the Lady Eagles’ third-place team finish in the tournament that ended Wednesday at The Hombre Golf Club.

Arrese Cortadellas dueled with Erin Barrington of Dallas Baptist (Texas), rallying from a three-shot deficit to lead by two before ending up one shot behind at the end despite a clutch birdie putt on No. 9, OC’s closing hole. Arrese Cortadellas’ even-par 72 over The Hombre’s Bad and Ugly courses was the second-best score of the tournament by any player and gave her a final score of 222.

The only player in the 45-woman field who had an under-par round all week? That would be OC’s Catherine Odgers, who posted a first-round 71 and closed with an 82 on Wednesday to finish at 237, good for a tie for eighth. It was the second time in as many NCCAA tournaments that Odgers, a senior from Victoria, Australia, made the All-America list, as she also did so in 2012.

Junior Audrey Meisch of Wichita, Kan., gave the Lady Eagles three All-Americans by shooting a final-round 75 over the 5,908-yard layout to move into a tie for sixth at 236. Meisch had missed out on All-America honors the past two seasons by just one shot.

"You get three girls in the top 10, you ought to think about finishing better than third," OC coach Greg Lynn said. "Unfortunately it just didn’t happen for us. The other girls just didn’t play as well. The course is extremely hard, but it’s just an excuse. I guess we’re going to have to use that one."

Arrese Cortadellas had consecutive birdies on No. 18 and No. 1 to go ahead by two shots, but bogeyed the par-3 No. 3 while Barrington birdied it. Bogeys at No. 5 and No. 8 put Arrese Cortadellas two shots back. Barrington parred her last six holes, leaving Arrese Cortadellas little opening to try and pull even down the stretch.

Still, it was another outstanding outing by Arrese Cortadellas, who has finished in the top 10 in all but one of her 30 collegiate tournaments. In national events, she was the NAIA runner-up in the spring of 2012, fourth in the NCCAA in fall 2012, third in the NCCAA last year and second this year.

"Anna just continues to be one of the best players in the country," Lynn said. "She’s a great ball striker, a good putter, she thinks her way around the golf course and needs almost no help out there, almost. She’s just a complete golfer and just on her way to something special, I believe, in golf."

The two sophomores in OC’s lineup, Allison Sell and Dana Todd, shot 87 and 86, respectively, in the final round. Sell ended up 22nd overall at 252 while Todd finished 26th at 257.

OC entered Wednesday third in a four-team race for the title, along with Dallas Baptist, Lee (Tenn.) and Shorter (Ga.). Dallas Baptist began the day with a three-shot lead over Shorter, but Shorter ended up four shots clear of DBU to take the championship. Lee and OC tied for third at 946, 10 shots behind Shorter.

The Lady Eagles made a brief run midway through the round and moved into second place, six shots behind Shorter and ahead of Dallas Baptist, but couldn’t hold that advantage.

"It’s good to compete, but every once in a while, you want to do more than just compete," Lynn said. "You want to step up and grab the ring. We didn’t do that. Right now, I’m kind of down about it, but we’ll pick ourselves back up and get back at it next semester."

The Lady Eagles’ fall season now is finished. They’ll begin their fall season March 2-3, when they play in the Las Vegas Desert Classic.

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