CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The Florida Southern women's golf team will go into the 2018-19 season as the No. 5 ranked team in the country according to the Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) preseason poll released on Tuesday, September 4. It's the first time in several years the coaches organization has conducted a national poll, with schools relying on the Golfstat national rankings during recent seasons.
Sitting at No. 1 in the poll is the University of Indianapolis, which won last year's Division II National Championship by topping runner-up California Baptist by 38 strokes. (Cal Baptist is now a Division I program.) The Greyhounds, who have won two of the last four Division II national titles and are the only team from outside the Sunshine State Conference to do so, received 12 of the possible 15 first-place votes. They return their top two players from last year's team who also finished first and second individually at the national tournament.
The No. 2 ranked team in the WGCA preseason poll is Nova Southeastern, which finished fourth at last year's national finals. The Sharks, coached by Florida Southern Athletic Hall of Famer Heather Wall (Burgner) were 19 points behind the Greyhounds and picked up one first-place vote. Dallas Baptist, which was third at the national finals, is also third in the preseason rankings, three points behind Nova Southeastern, though the Patriots had two first-place votes to the Sharks' one. Barry is No. 4 in the poll after placing fifth at last year's national finals.
Four more SSC schools follow Barry in the fifth through eighth positions with Florida Southern, Saint Leo, Lynn, and Rollins giving the nation's best Division II golf conference six of the top eight schools in the preseason poll. The SSC also has Florida Tech at No. 19, and Tampa receiving votes.
Florida Southern returns six of its top seven golfers from last year, including the three lowest stroke averages. That group helped the Moccasins reach the NCAA postseason for the 19th time overall, and the 18th under head coach Robbie Davis. The Mocs finished fourth at the Super Region 2 Tournament, falling one spot short of advancing to the national finals, but still ended the year No. 7 in the Golfstat rankings.
Although Florida Southern did not reach the finals as a team, current junior Amanda Gartrell did so as an individual. A WGCA Second Team All-American, Gartrell led the Moccasins with a 74.69 stroke average and 10 tournament top-10 finishes. Both of those numbers are second in the team's single-season record book.
Senior Tori Higgins and sophomore Ashley Zagers were second and third on the team last season in stroke average, with Higgins coming out ahead by just 0.16 strokes per round. She had five tournament top-10s and has been part of the regular lineup the last two seasons. Zagers was the 2018 SSC Freshman-of-the-Year and also had five top-10 finishes. Sophomore Shelby Lewis moved into the lineup on a regular basis last February and ended her rookie season by placing 18th at the NCAA Super Regional Tournament.
Florida Southern opens the season September 14-16 in Daytona Beach at the Lady Falcon Invitational.
Four freshmen have joined the Moccasins this year, with three of the state's top high school players on that list (Hayley Musselman from Auburndale, Loren Perez from Bartow, and Hanna Rizzolo from West Palm Beach), and one international newcomer from Sweden (Nathalie Svensson).
For the complete NCAA Division II preseason poll, click here.