With its inaugural season out of the way, the women’s golf team is on the rise as the Mavericks look to continue setting program firsts.
“All in all, we’re definitely a stronger, deeper team than what we were last year,” golf director Stuart Deane said.
The team returns three of six veterans and welcomes three newcomers. Of the three lost, which include the program’s first-ever recruits, Rachel Phillips and Allison Wade and last season’s top-dog, Ava Schwienteck, Deane said the strength of his recruiting class will make up for it all.
“I think in a player like Abby Adams, I think she’ll be a straight replacement for Ava Schwienteck, so I’m really not too concerned,” Deane said. “With Janane Tan and Connor Howard, I mean, they’re going to be better players than the other two that we lost.”
In its debut, the Mavericks registered four top-10 finishes during the regular season, including a program-best second-place finish at the ORU/SFA Spring Break Invite, where they were led by sophomore Sydney Garber.
Despite Schwienteck claiming the program’s first individual title last season, Deane is looking for more, both individually and as a team.
“It’s definitely a year where we raise the bar and look for a team-win and look for an individual-win,” Deane said. “Ava Schwienteck tied for a victory, but it wasn’t an outright so we’re looking for our first true medalist in program history as well.”
The Mavericks took eighth place in its first Sun Belt Conference championship appearance last season despite playing with just four golfers, one less than the others. The team competed as top-dogs during the first two rounds, placing as high as third, but stumbled in the final round.
“After we were in third place after the first two rounds of conference, it really showed us that we’re just as good as any other team in our conference and we know we can play well,” sophomore Madigan Murray said.
Looking ahead to conference this year, Deane said if the team can secure a top-eight finish, it’ll be a good start.
With a year of collegiate golf under their belt, Deane said he believes the returners will come in playing better, more confidently and more consistently. When it comes to stepping up and providing guidance to the newcomers, Deane said each of the returners will contribute in their own way.
“I don’t really foresee, sort of, one being a standout to another just because they’re all very equal,” he said.
The Mavericks are scheduled to host the program’s first home tournament, the UT Arlington Invitational on Oct. 22-23 in Mansfield, Texas.
“I wanted to do really early in our program history. I think it’s a great thing for us to be able to host an event here and showcase the players that we have,” Deane said. “If we can showcase it, if we can host it, we can have our own boosters a part of it, you know, our own fans a part of it.”
The team will compete in a few qualifying rounds in the coming days to solidify themselves on the lineup before kicking off their season Aug. 31- Sept. 2 at The Lady Maxwell in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
“I know that Coach Deane put us here for a reason,” freshman Abigail Adams said. “All the players are really awesome here so it’s going to be, definitely, hard competition but it’ll be good for us.”