Welch fired an opening 69 on the par-72, 5,969-yard course and backed that up with an even par in the second round to take the overall lead. The Dolphins shot 603 for the first two rounds for a one-shot lead over Daytona State College and Florida Gulf Coast.
JU sophomore Natalie Schmett had rounds of 74 and 76 to tie for ninth overall.
“I'm really proud of the way the girls played today,” JU head coach Jennifer Borocz said. “They fought hard and put us in a good place going into tomorrow. We just need to play our own game tomorrow and hopefully end up on top. It would be the first victory for JU in a long time.”
Three other Dolphins, senior Gaia Olcese, junior Carlie Gehlhausen and junior Francesca Yong all are in the top 35. Olcese had rounds of 76-80-156 to tie for 24th; Gehlhausen came in at 78-79 157 for a 27th place tie and Yong is tied for 34th with rounds of 81-79.
Troy University is fourth in the team competition with a 605 total followed by South Alabama at 609, North Florida at 613, Seminole State at 621, South Dakota State, 653, Florida Atlantic, 653 and Northern Kentucky at 657.
Play resumes Tuesday with the final round at Hidden Hills.