Scots open 2018-19 season at Rhodes under Henderson

Scots open 2018-19 season at Rhodes under Henderson

The Maryville College Women's Golf team will open the 2018-19 season this weekend under new coach Jason Henderson.

The Scots travel to Memphis, Tenn. for the Rhodes College Classic on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9. Squads will tee off at noon, weather permitting.

"My first full season doing this, I'm extremely excited about it," Henderson said. "There's a lot of opportunities here. I think the team is really going to take off in a good direction."

The first-year coach returns talent for the season, while adding numerous new faces.

Seniors Grace Gass and Elaina Davis anchor the youth-laden squad, as the other seven members of the squad are freshmen or sophomores.

"Grace Gass, she's coming off a back injury, so we're really hoping that she's going to be well for the spring season," Henderson said. "Right now, Elaina is really helping out as a captain. She motivates the team very well, and she gives a lot of drive. She definitely has some great ability, but there's still some room for improvement. Her skills as a leader have been very impressive. She's really picked it up and ran with it."

Davis was a leader on the course last season, as the only upperclassman to play due to Gass' injury. Davis ranked second on the team with six birdies during 2017-18.

This season, she's become the squad's vocal leader.

"It's been a process," Davis said. "It's definitely something. We have a bunch of new freshman coming in, and you want to bring them into the family. It's melding them in, not just with golf, but with our personalities and our outer interests, as well."

In all, Maryville has four freshmen on this season's roster. Henderson says he expects those freshmen to create more competition within the squad.

The coach continued that freshmen will be traveling to Rhodes this weekend.

"You know, I am taking about three freshmen with us this trip," Henderson said. "There's a lot of potential on the team. It's definitely going to be a building year. We have Katelyn Witucki returning, which I do have a lot of expectations from her. I think we're going to be a little bit stronger this year."

Witucki, along with fellow sophomores Katelyn Curtis and McCall Smallwood return this season, as well.

Last season, Witucki nearly rewrote the MC record books, while breaking the season record for birdies in her freshman campaign. She tallied 14 last year for the Scots.

"I felt really accomplished last year, so I just want to build on that," Witucki said. "That will just keep making me a better player each year. I'm really excited to, hopefully, go beyond [the career birdies] goal. I'm just going to push myself this season. I'm just really excited."

Henderson says he expects the new players on the squad to push her even more.

Heading into her second season of collegiate golf, the Seymour, Tenn. native is close to the MC career birdies mark.

"From just looking back, I think she's only two or three birdies short of breaking the career record for birdies at Maryville College," Henderson said. "This is going to be a competitive year for her with all these freshmen coming in. There's a lot of expectations from them, and I expect them to push her. I'm really hoping to see her go above and beyond this year."

With the new players, a new coach and a new season, the excitement for the Scots is evident.

Witucki, along with her teammates, are encouraged for the weekend opener.

"That's awesome," the sophomore standout said. "I'm glad that we're growing. We lost a few last year, and we're going to be able replenish that. We're going to have some really good girls to go through Maryville. I think we have a really good team this year, and I'm excited for these new girls to get a lot of experience this weekend. I think it's going to be really good."

Live stats for the season opener will be available. Fans can follow the action HERE.