Freshman leads Lady Tops in dominant win

Sam Porter

The WKU women’s golf team opened the season Tuesday, Sep. 13 at Murray State University’s Drake Creek Invitational.

Led by freshman Mary Joiner, the Lady Toppers won the season opener in dominant fashion as second place Murray State finished 16 strokes behind.

Joiner, a graduate of nearby Franklin-Simpson High School, shot 217(71-75-71) at the par-72 Drake Creek Golf Club to edge out Southern Illinois’ Brooke Cusamano (218) and WKU teammate junior Georgina Blackman (218) for the victory.

Blackman and Joiner were tied for first place individually going into the final round. Blackman shot an even 72 as Joiner shot a 71 to earn her first collegiate victory in her college debut.

“It definitely wasn’t what I expected,” Joiner said about her victory. “Winning is always the goal, but I knew the competition would be tougher in college than it was in high school and the wins wouldn’t come as easy. I just went out there and played great and I hope I can continue doing that in the future.”

As a team, the Lady Tops led after day one of the invitational and never looked back, finishing with a final score of 886 (294-300-292) to propel themselves over second place Murray State University (902) and third place University of Akron (908).

WKU’s 292 on the final day was the program’s best single team round since shooting 290 in the season opener last season.

The Lady Tops had three team rounds of 294 or better all of last season and registered two rounds of 294 or better in two of the first three rounds of the 2016-17 campaign.

“I was super excited about the team’s performance,” Head Coach Adam Gary said about the team victory. “Everybody’s been working hard over the summer and I could tell last week when we went over our stats in individual meetings. We went through our entire roster, and everyone improved from last year so I know that they put the time in. One thing I emphasized with them is that hard work pays off and it showed.”

Following Joiner and Blackman on the scoring card was junior Emily Alexander, who finished 11th overall with a 226(75-75-76), followed by junior Katie Story (17th overall) and senior Daniela Galassi (19th overall) to round out the scoring for WKU.

The victory is Gary’s fourth championship since taking over the helm in 2014. Gary is also the second coach in program history to consequently win a tournament in each of the first three seasons.

“Everyone played solid,” Joiner said. “We brought five players and nobody shot in the 80’s which is really good. We won by 16 strokes so that gives us a lot of confidence moving forward. It just shows how deep we are as a team.”

The WKU women’s golf team will be back in action next Monday at the Lady Pirate Intercollegiate in Greenville, North Carolina.

“We just want to take it one tournament at a time,” Gary said. “We take it week by week and try to get better than the week before. Obviously if we work on the right things than the results will come so we’re more focused on the process than the actual outcome.”

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.