Women’s golf team leans on returners heading into program’s third season

Freshman Connor Howard tracks her shot on the fairway during the inaugural UT Arlington Invitational on Oct. 23 in Mansfield, Texas. The team hopes to improve during its third year as a program. 

A seventh-place finish at the 2019 Sun Belt Conference Championship has the women’s golf team striving for more heading into the new season.

“They really came a long way and worked really hard,” head coach Catherine Matranga said. “We saw that progress that they made in rankings and scores throughout the spring.”

The Mavericks pulled off top-10 finishes in three of their last five tournaments, including a season-best fourth place finish at the Lamar Cardinal Challenge in early April.

UTA will return four of its top five golfers to start the new year. The returners are led by junior Madigan Murray, whose scoring average of 76.91 ranked first on the team.

“[Murray has] really stepped up and played well,” Matranga said. “I really think she’ll have a great year. A lot of good things ahead for her.”

As one of the experienced members of the team, Murray said she feels that her teammates look up to her because of the way she carries herself on and off the golf course.

Also returning for UTA are sophomore Abigail Adams and junior Sydney Garber. The pair made 11 tournament appearances for the team last season.

The program welcomes freshman Kinsey Ray as its only newcomer this year. She was a three-time state tournament participant at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas.

“[Ray is] going to bring a good light to the team,” Adams said. “I think that she’s going to do incredible things for our program.”

Matranga said she will look to her relatively young team to take the program to new heights. Last year’s seventh-place showing topped the eighth-place finish the team exhibited in its inaugural season.

“Obviously, we would love to win conference and go out and get a bid to [NCAA] regionals, but we’ll see where that takes us through hard work all year,” Matranga said. “If it pays off and we get that, then that’s fantastic.”

Adams said she thinks this season will be the team’s best because everyone knows their roles.

“I really think that this year, with all seven girls returning and the addition of Kinsey, that this could be our best season yet,” Adams said. “It’s just a matter of us working as a team and being there for one another.”

The women’s golf team will open its season in Manhattan, Kansas, for the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational on Sept. 15.

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