Karen Bahnsen has had brighter looking starts to the spring schedule in her 32 seasons as LSU’s women’s golf coach.

Wrist surgery for top Lady Tiger Caroline Nistrup, a top-10 women’s amateur in the world at the time of her injury, means she could miss the entire spring. She struck a tree root trying to hit an iron shot in a tournament back in September.

Bahnsen said Nistrup is ahead of schedule rehab-wise and hopes she can return in time for the SEC championship in April. However, surgeries on both hips have shelved sophomore Claudia De Antonio for the spring, leaving Bahnsen with only seven available players as they begin defense of their team title Sunday in the Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate at English Turn Golf and Country Club.

“We thought this year we’d have more depth,” Bahnsen said, “but losing two key players hurts a lot.”

It could hurt more when considering LSU still has its annual LSU Tiger Golf Classic to host March 20-22 and an NCAA regional May 5-7. Both tournaments will be at the University Club.

Bahnsen’s Lady Tigers are trying to make the best of the situation.

“These (remaining) girls are working their tails off,” she said. “We’re not using it as an excuse. We came back for the spring with the mindset this is where we are. We’ve got to go out and play our best. That’s all we can do.”

In Nistrup’s absence, LSU’s most consistent player has been freshman Kathleen Gallagher. The daughter of former Lady Tiger golfer Cissye Meeks Gallagher and long-time PGA touring pro Jim Gallagher, she leads LSU’s available players with a 74.08 stroke average.

Gallagher will be joined in the tournament by seniors Elise Bradley and Nadine Dreher, sophomore Sydney Cavin and junior Carly Goldstein in her first start this season. Lana Hodge, a former UL-Monroe transfer, will also make her season debut as an individual competitor.

Tulane is the host school for the Sugar Bowl tournament. The field features 17 teams including No. 3 UCLA and No. 6 Stanford, the reigning NCAA women’s champion, along with 18 of the nation’s top 50 individuals in the latest GolfStat.com rankings.

Tulane is coming off a runner-up finish in its spring opener in the UCF Challenge in Florida, led by a third-place finish by senior Emily Penttila. She’ll be joined in the Tulane lineup this week by seniors Madison Opfer and Silvia Garces, junior Belen Goicoechea and freshman Laura Munoz. Green Wave freshmen Abbie Caldwell and Sofia Goicoechea will also compete as individuals.

“We look forward to putting on a first-class event once again in 2016,” Tulane coach Lorne Don said. “We had a nice effort in the season opener and have spent the last week and a half working hard to get ready for this weekend. We look forward to once again hosting some of the nation’s top teams and golfers.”

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.

LSU spring women’s golf schedule

Feb. 21-23 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate New Orleans (English Turn)

March 4-6 Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Hilton Head, South Carolina

March 20-22 LSU Tiger Golf Classic University Club

April 3-5 Silverado Showdown Napa, California

April 15-17 SEC Championship Birmingham, Alabama

May 5-7 NCAA regionals University Club

May 20-25 NCAA Championships Eugene, Oregon

Tulane spring women’s golf schedule

Feb. 7-9 UCF Challenge Second place

Feb. 21-23 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate New Orleans (English Turn)

Feb. 29-March 2 Hurricane Invitational Miami

March 20-22 LSU Tiger Golf Classic University Club

April 1-2 SMU Invitational Dallas

April 17-19 AAC Championship Palm Coast, Florida

May 5-7 NCAA regionals TBD

May 20-25 NCAA Championships Eugene, Oregon