Women's spring preview: Southland Conference
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Today, we look at the Southland Conference:
• • •
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Lamar
• Player to watch: Nghi Ngo, Lamar: With a mix of experience and talent, Ngo is one of the most potent players in the conference. The junior posted a 74.7 scoring average in the fall and recorded a top-5 finish.
• Freshman to watch: Wenny Chang, Lamar: Chang stepped into a crucial spot for the defending champs as a rookie and delivered. She led the team in scoring average and won a tournament this fall.
• Conference championship: April 15-17, High Meadow Ranch CC, Magnolia, Texas
• Past champions (since 2009): Lamar (2013), Texas-San Antonio (2011-12), Texas State (2010), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2009)
• • •
(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Lamar (99): With only five golfers on roster, the defending champs will have to rely on two freshmen to step up this year. So far, so good. Freshman Wenny Chang led the team in scoring average in the fall at 74. She also posted two top 5s, including a win at the Harold Funston Invitational. Returners Taylor Stockton and Nghi Ngo had excellent falls as well. Both players notched a top 5 and a scoring average less than 75.
- Oral Roberts (113): Oral Roberts enjoyed success early and often in the fall, recording top 5s in each of its four tournaments. The team won Payne Stewart Memorial, which was hosted by Missouri State. The team showed consistency, with only one golfer finishing lower than 50 in a tournament this fall. Southland Freshman of the Year Alejandra Acosta returns for Oral Roberts, and she led the team with two top 5s and a 75.5 scoring average.
- Central Arkansas (128): Central Arkansas returns four of its five contributors from last year’s Southland Conference Championship, but is missing one key piece – last year’s Southland Golfer of the Year Julia Roth. Sarah Brown led the team in the fall, playing to two top 5s individually. The team’s top performance was at the Chip-N Club Invitational, where it finished second.
- Sam Houston State (142): Sam Houston State has a different looking lineup after placing 3rd at last year’s Southland Conference Championship behind individual champ Shelby Hardy. Four of the team’s five contributors from that tournament are gone, including Hardy. The team filled in well in its final two tournaments of the fall, taking a win at the Harold Funston Invitational over several conference opponents and a T-5 at the UAB Fall Beach Bash.
- Houston Baptist (157): As the winner of four straight Great West titles, Houston Baptist enters a new era in the Southland Conference. The team will look to extend its Great West dominance to a new conference, but will see a lot more competition. The team posted three top 5s in the fall, led by senior Christina Cantu and junior Rachel Mulkey. The Huskies will miss the presence of Great West medalist Kelsey Lou-Hing, but return two top-5 performers from last year’s Great West Championship.
- Incarnate Word (163): The Cardinals move into the Southland Conference from Division II’s Lone Star Conference. The team took four top 5s in the fall, including a runner-up finish at the Hawks Creek Invitational. Senior Flower Castillo leads the team after finishing first on the team in scoring average last year.
- McNeese State (168): McNeese State pulled out two top 5s in the fall led by senior Sydney Martien. The senior nabbed two individual top 10s – one at the Steelwood Collegiate Invitational and another at the Memphis Intercollegiate. She also led the team in scoring average. Sophomore Dolores Brown added her own top 10 in the fall for the Cowboys.
- Stephen F. Austin (188): With its underclassmen outweighing its upperclassmen 7-3, Stephen F. Austin pulled out one top 5 in the fall. With four tournaments in their fall slate, the Ladyjacks placed 5th at the Harold Funston Invitational. Stephen F. Austin finished last at the 2012-13 Southland Conference Championship. The team’s top returner is senior Aliece Anderson.
- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (204): The Islanders’ top returner is junior Vanessa Johnson, who earned a second team All-Southland nod last season after finishing T-2 at the conference tournament. The team’s best finish of the fall was a 6th-place finish at the Harold Funston Invitational, where Johnson led the team with a top-10 showing.
- New Orleans (225): New Orleans cannot tout experience this spring. Six of its seven golfers are underclassmen and the long upperclassman, Pair Noibanchong, is in her second year at New Orleans after transferring from Southern Miss. Freshman Brenda Gonzalez was gave the team its highlight of the fall at the Lady Red Golf Classic. The team had its best finish of the season, finishing in fifth place and Gonzalez led the team with a T-5 showing.