Lady Eagles, Goodwin begin run for NCAA berth

Photo: This is Kate Goodwin’s fourth straight West Super Regional for OC.

AMARILLO, Texas (May 5, 2019) – When Oklahoma Christian qualified for the Division II West Super Region tournament in 2016, its first season of eligibility to do so, the Eagles certainly hoped to make annual trips to the NCAA women’s golf postseason.

If there’s one thing the Eagles have learned since then, it’s that NCAA postseason trips are to be treasured, because they are difficult to earn. Three years after the Eagles’ debut, they finally will make their second appearance when they tee off Monday at Amarillo Country Club in the 12-team event that includes the top squads from the West and South Central Regions.

OC made this year’s field comfortably, picked sixth in the Super Region in the final NCAA rankings, after winning three tournaments in 2018-19 – the Northeastern State Women’s Classic at Cherokee Springs Golf Club in Tahlequah, Okla., the Midwestern State Invitational at Wichita Falls Country Club in Wichita Falls, Texas, and the Hillcat Classic at Bailey Ranch Golf Club in Owasso, Okla.

The top four team finishers in the 54-hole Super Regional and top three individuals not on one of those teams will advance to the NCAA Division II Championship, set for May 15-18 at PGA National Resort’s Champions Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. After finishing as the runner-up to national No. 2-ranked Dallas Baptist (Texas) in the Heartland Conference Championship, OC might well contend for one of those four team spots.

The Eagles are led by two players with plenty of NCAA postseason experience. Senior Kate Goodwin of Tulsa is 4 for 4 in making the Super Regional field, qualifying as an individual as a sophomore and junior after starting on the 2016 team. All she did last year, as the last individual qualifier, is win the Super Regional title at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango, Colo. That’s one of her five career victories.

Junior Abigail Rigsby qualified for the Super Regional as an individual in 2017 and – with a dramatic final-day comeback – earned a spot in, then won, a playoff to earn a spot in the Division II Championship (which she had to miss due to illness). Rigsby, from Courtenay, British Columbia, has three career wins, including two this season. Both she and Goodwin received All-Heartland second-team honors.

Sophomore Shaley Goad is enjoying a breakthrough season, with five top-five finishes, including a runner-up showing at the Heartland tournament. Goad grew up in the Texas Panhandle near Wheeler and her familiarity with the Amarillo Country Club course could be an advantage.

Senior Elizabeth Freeman of Edmond provides steady play and the Eagles hope to have back freshman Alexandria Bennett of Plano, Texas, who missed the last three tournaments due to injury. If Bennett can’t go, coach Greg Lynn will turn to sophomore Felicity Wittenberg of West Pymble, Australia, who filled the No. 5 spot for OC in the Heartland tournament.

Dallas Baptist led the list of Super Regional qualifiers, followed by California State-San Marcos, West Texas A&M, St. Mary’s (Texas), Academy of Art (Calif.), OC, St. Edward’s (Texas), Sonoma State (Calif.), Texas A&M-Commerce, California State-Monterey Bay, Colorado State-Pueblo and Simon Fraser (British Columbia).

The six individual qualifiers this year were Alli Kim of Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.), Julia Baroth of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Shantel Antonio of Concordia (Ore.), Yu Hsin Chang of California State-East Bay, Julie Knaw of Tarleton State (Texas) and Cammie Decker of Concordia (Ore.).

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Ken MacLeod

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