A top-five finish at state last season, a solid nucleus returning, a strong offseason of work and the addition of a talented freshman have Columbus North riding a wave of excitement heading into the 2015 girls golf season.

The Bull Dogs return four of the five golfers from a team that finished fifth at the state meet last season. North won Conference Indiana and Greensburg Sectional titles and was runner-up in the New Castle Regional.

“I’m very optimistic about this year,” North coach Scott Seavers said. “I’m excited. I love what our team has done this summer to prepare for the season. All the girls have been playing in summer tournaments and have been playing and practicing a lot.”

The Bull Dogs lost three-time state qualifier Sydney Anderson, who is now playing at Ball State. Anderson finished 12th at state individually last season and earned All-State honors.

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“That’s a big loss for us,” Seavers said. “She was a great leader, and we’re really going to miss that, but Holly (Anderson) has stepped up and embraced that role.”

Junior Holly Anderson — Sydney’s sister — is the team captain this year. She and sophomore Danbi Kim, who was North’s No. 2 golfer most of last season, are battling for the No. 1 spot.

“(Kim) played pretty well in the city tournament, but Holly has played pretty well, too,” Seavers said. “She had a very consistent summer. It’s going to be close between them. It could go back and forth.”

Junior Aubrey Smith and sophomore Julia Luken played No. 4 and No. 5 for the Bull Dogs last season. They joined the Andersons and Kim in earning All-Conference honors last fall.

“So far, they’ve shown signs of a lot of improvement,” Seavers said. “I expect them to step up this year and provide some great scores for us.”

Seavers thinks freshman Alexandria Munnicha could factor anywhere in the top five. Munnicha has been playing in junior tournaments on the Indiana Golf Foundation tour for several years.

“I expect her to be in there vying for any one of those positions,” Seavers said. “We should have a solid five. I expect our top five to switch around a little bit this year.”

Junior Katelin Kovach, sophomore Molly Donnell and junior Maddy Neal are battling for the No. 6 spot for dual and tri meets and hope to provide a challenge to the top five.

“I expect them to show some big improvements this year, as well,” Seavers said. “They’ve put in their time this summer to want to compete.”

North also has a pair of freshman in Gracie Davis and Cloe Abner who will provide depth.

“They’re going to get better and learn from the older girls,” Seavers said.

The Bull Dogs, who are ranked fifth in the state preseason poll, open the season Saturday. The top five will play in the Fall Preview at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, site of the state finals, while the second five will play against varsity teams in the Greensburg Invitational.

“I certainly think we’re capable of improving upon last year’s (state) finish, and we’re going to work towards that,” Seavers said. “But we also have to find out how the other teams have improved, as well. We’ll find out right away at the Fall Preview Tournament where we stand.”

At a glance

Columbus North’s 2015 girls golf schedule:

Saturday;at Greensburg Invitational (JV);9 a.m.

Saturday;Fall Preview at Prairie View (varsity);1 p.m.

Monday;Perry Meridian;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 15;Fuzzy Zoeller Invitational at Champions Pointe;2:30 p.m.

Aug. 17;Greenwood;4 p.m.

Aug. 20;Jennings County;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 22;Hall of Fame at Country Oaks;12:30 p.m.

Aug. 24;Bloomington North;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 25;at Seymour;4:30 p.m.

Aug. 31;Southport;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 5;at Bloomington South Invitational;11 a.m.

Sept. 8;at Center Grove;4 p.m.

Sept. 9;Martinsville;4:30 p.m.

Sept. 10;Whiteland;5 p.m.

Sept. 12;at Franklin Central Invitational;1:30 p.m.

Sept. 14;Conference Indiana at Bloomington South;9 a.m.

Sept. 15;Columbus East;4 p.m.

Sept. 16;at Greensburg;4:30 p.m.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.