OCU women own chemistry, experience
Defending national champion Oklahoma City University starts the season atop the NAIA women’s golf rankings.
The Stars return four golfers from last season’s team. Those veterans have welcomed the newest recruiting class and look forward to teeing off for the first time together 8:30 a.m. Monday in the Missouri State/Payne Stewart Memorial at Twin Oaks Country Club in Springfield, Mo.
“It’s an honor to be No. 1, but this year’s team hasn’t done anything to deserve it,” said OCU coach Marty McCauley, who has led the Stars to three national titles in seven years. “We haven’t hit a shot. It’s a good place to start, but we need to earn the No. 1 ranking.”
All eight team members will get their crack at playing in the first tournament. The newcomers will look to get experience quickly since six of OCU’s eight tournaments will pit the Stars against NCAA Division I competition.
“I’ve been proud of how this team has bonded,” McCauley said. “This team has gotten together and worked together as a team which is encouraging. To start off the way we have is crucial.”
OCU’s returners include all-Americans Emma Allen, Melissa Eldredge and Savannah Moody plus Regan McQuaid.
Allen, a senior from Broken Arrow, Okla., captured her first career tournament victory in the Claud Jacobs Invitational while compiling a 79.20 scoring average last season. She owns a career stroke average of 77.61 and took first-team all-American and Sooner Athletic Conference freshman of the year accolades previously.
Moody, a senior from Aledo, Texas, collected first-team all-American and all-tournament in the NAIA Championships along with 77.00 strokes per 18 holes last season. Moody placed in the top 25 of the Texas Women’s Open in July.
Eldredge, a sophomore from Eufaula, Okla., snared national-tournament all-tournament, second-team all-American and all-conference acclaim while shooting an average score of 78.04 in 2016-17.
McQuaid, a junior from Tulsa, Okla., had a top-15 finish and three top-20 finishes while carding an 83.44 stroke average.
“They were part of a national championship team,” McCauley said of the OCU returnees. “They inherited traits from last year’s team that should help guide this team.”
The newest Stars are freshmen Clair Hill, Loren Matrone, McKenzie McCoy and Arianna Medina. Hill, from Gig Harbor, Wash., will have the chance to return to her home state when OCU plays in the Washington State Cougar Cup on Sept. 18-19.
Matrone aided Frisco Liberty (Texas) in placing fourth in Texas’ Class 5A state tournament, while McCoy, from Beggs, Okla., placed in the top five of the Class 3A state tournament twice. Medina hails from Phoenix, known to be an abundant source of junior golf talent.
“Collectively this is an extremely gifted and talented group,” McCauley said of the Stars’ freshman class.
“I honestly feel their best golf is in front of them. This is a very unique class having four girls from four states. They all have similar qualities. They have exhibited good work ethic.”
OCU hosts both its home tournaments and the Sooner Athletic Conference Championships at Lincoln Park Golf Course. Lincoln Park was recently announced as the site for the 2019 and 2020 NAIA Championships.
“Everybody is excited,” McCauley said. “It’s helped with recruiting. It’s something that comes around once in a lifetime that you play for the national championship in your city.”