LAPORTE | Beechwood Golf Course normally brings out the worst in Chesterton sophomore Marissa Kroeger's game.
On the strength of a birdie-birdie-eagle stretch on holes 10, 11 and 13, Kroeger erased her past struggles and finished third with a 5-over-par 79 at the Saturday's LaPorte Regional.
Kroeger helped Times No. 1 Chesterton make its third straight trip to the IHSAA state finals with a second-place team finish (359).
Penn repeated as champions (328) as Kingsmen Deanna Song and Kari Bellville shared medalist honors with 78s.
Valparaiso earned a repeat trip with another third-place finish (373).
Kroeger carded a 93 at the Pat Ford Invitational on Sept. 10 and a 95 at last year's regional in her previous two prep 18-hole rounds at Beechwood.
Kroeger turned things around with Saturday's round. She punctuated her quality stretch on the start of her back nine by placing her second shot 8 feet from the hole on 13.
"This course has always given me trouble," said Kroeger, who was 1-under 37 on the back nine. "If I could beat this course, I knew this would be a confidence boost for me."
This was Kroeger's best prep round of her career and the first time she has made it below 80.
"This isn't a fluke," Chesterton coach Dale Hewitt said. "She's got the game to go this low."
Munster's Kamryn Klawitter took an individual qualifying spot for the second straight season. She bested last year's score by three strokes with an 81.
"The experience definitely helped me out this time around," she said. "Having advanced before gave me the confidence to know I could do it again."
Marquette's Mary-Katherine Slattery qualified with an 82, and South Central's Sydney Bailey took the final spot with an 84.
Bailey, who missed qualifying last season by a stroke, defeated South Bend St. Joseph's Anna Wilcoxson on the first playoff hole.
Bailey kept her confidence even though Wilcoxson put her drive within 10 feet of the hole. The S.C. senior took a putt from the far fringe and put it within a foot of the hole.
"I just wanted to get it close to put pressure on her," said Bailey, who sank her putt.
Wilcoxson then missed the mark on two straight putts.
"I knew the putts (Wilcoxson) had weren't easy, and I just had to remain focused," said Bailey, the first S.C. girls golfer to advance. "I could just jump up and down and scream now, but I know we're on a golf course."