AUBURN — The sun came out and the scores rose with the temperatures in the second round of the Maine Women’s Amateur golf championship on Tuesday.

Two-time defending champion Staci Creech handled the changing conditions best.

Creech navigated the undulating Martindale Country Club course with the day’s best round of 1-over 72. She made two birdies against three bogeys to grab a three-shot lead over first-round co-leader Bailey Plourde.

“I didn’t feel like I hit the ball very solid and I didn’t give myself very many birdie opportunities,” Creech said. “I left myself a lot of longer putts. It was kind of a struggle. It wasn’t easy. I do feel like I can play better than I have the last two days.”

Creech kept herself out of trouble by playing conservatively on approach shots to make sure she was putting uphill to the pin. It wasn’t glamorous but it was efficient. She also showed the ability to respond to a poor hole.

On the 15th hole, Creech 3-putted for a bogey. As she walked off the green her caddie, husband and University of Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech, had to depart because of a work commitment.

Creech slung her bag over her back, knocked two straight shots up the rising 16th hole and then buried a 25-foot birdie putt.

Creech, 44, from Veazie and playing out of Bangor Municipal, is 1-over par for the tournament. Plourde, 17, of Newcastle (Samoset) shot a 75 Tuesday and is the only player in reasonable striking distance of Creech, at 4 over.

Jordan Laplume of Old Orchard Beach (Dunegrass), who will be a senior at Thornton Academy, shot a second straight 77 and is in third, 11 strokes behind Creech. Creech, Plourde and Laplume will be in Wednesday’s final group with an 11:20 a.m. tee time. They were the only three golfers to break 80 on Tuesday after eight sub-80 rounds were posted Monday.

Like Creech, Plourde had very few looks at birdie opportunities. But while Creech saved par on a couple of holes (notably a 15-footer on the 11th), Plourde had similar par chances slip past the hole leading to five bogeys against a birdie on No. 1.

“I found my approach shots weren’t quite as good. (Monday) I had some birdie putts I could make and today I just didn’t have that,” Plourde said. “I shot a good enough round. Kind of kept myself under control. I feel like I shot an OK number so I’m still in range.”

Plourde trailed Creech by three strokes entering the final round last year but finished 11 strokes behind in second place.

“I’ve got to play my own game tomorrow. I have to be comfortable with my swing,” Plourde said. “I’ve played a lot, I’ve practiced a lot. I feel like up to this point I’ve done as much as I can and I just have to trust it. I can’t focus too much on what she’s shooting and hopefully it turns out well.”

Laplume will get her first taste of final-group pressure on Wednesday. She received a confidence boost Tuesday with birdies on 15 and 16 and tap-in pars at 17 and 18.

“I am a little nervous but if I play my own game I should be OK, really,” Laplume said. “(Creech and Plourde) are both really good golfers and I don’t know if I could really compare to them. They’re definitely better, and more consistent, and straight.”

On a day when two-thirds of the field posted higher scores than the first round, several young first-round contenders struggled to keep pace. Elizabeth Lacognata, 17, of Scarborough (Woodlands) shot 81 after a first-round 74 that had her three strokes behind the leaders. Playing in the final group of a significant tournament for the first time, the long-driving Lacognata opened with four straight bogeys and a double-bogey at No. 6.

“All of the reporters and cameras on the front nine, it was a new learning experience for me,” said Lacognata, who played better on the back nine and finished her round with a birdie on the 18th.

“I’m young so it can only get better.”

Erin Holmes, a 2017 Greely High graduate, continued to struggle with a balky putter and shot 83 after a first-round 78. Ruby Haylock, 12, who plays out of Turner Highlands, shot a surprising first-round 78. Her 88 on Tuesday was more befitting her 16.9 handicap.