No. 25 C-N set for stout season opener at UINDY Invitational

VIDEO: Suzanne Strudwick Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The start of the 2019-20 campaign has arrived for No. 25 Carson-Newman and takes the group to Carmel, Ind. for the fifth-annual UINDY Fall Invitational on Monday and Tuesday.

"We're really excited," Carson-Newman coach Suzanne Strudwick said. "I mean, we knew coming in this was going to be the very first event coming up really quick. We've only had a week to get practice and to do the qualifiers, and I've been really excited. So far, the qualifiers have been scores considerably lower than even last year's qualifier for the event, so I'm really excited.

"The girls are pumped, they've worked hard leading into it which is always hard because you're not with them during the summer, but it just shows me where their sights are, what they're wanting to achieve this year and because the majority of them are seniors and juniors, they know that their career's coming to an end so let's finish on a bash."

This is the second-straight season where the Eagles are starting their year at the invitational. Last year, they left with a ninth-place finish at a 54-over 918. Rachel Watts (Newport, Tenn.) was the only Eagle to land in the top 20 of the field, tying for 20th at eight-over.

Watts comes into her senior year after a 2018-19 campaign that saw her start in all 10 events C-N competed in. She recorded three top 10 finishes with a 78.0 scoring average. This time around, she will play at the No. 1 spot in Carmel for the Eagles. Joining her in the starting lineup as returners to the event are Maeve Cummins (Waringstown, Northern Ireland) and Jayla Sims (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.).

Last year's UINDY Invitational was the Carson-Newman debut for Cummins where she finished in 66th at 28-over. That event was the only one in her stellar freshman campaign that resulted with her sitting out of the top-20 in a given tournament field. This year, Cummins will serve as the second-seed in the Eagles' starting lineup.

Sims is coming off of a sophomore season that featured eight event appearances, all in the starting five for the Orange and Blue. She tied for 34th at UINDY last year with a +13 outing at 229. She will compete as C-N's No. 3 this week.

Matilda Frövenholt (Öjersjö, Sweden) and Reagan Kinnie (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) make their event debuts this week as the No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.

Frövenholt enters her junior year after playing in five events last season. As a sophomore, she held a 78.8 scoring clip.

As for Kinnie, the All-SAC Honorable Mention from a year ago was a starter in eight of her 10 event appearances in the 2018-19 season. She was in the top 10 for three of those events with two top-five results. Her junior campaign came with a 76.8 scoring average.

Olivia Williams (Cleveland, Tenn.) heads to UINDY as an individual for the Eagles. This will be the fourth career event the junior has played in and her first since the Lady Cougar Invitational back in March. She closed her sophomore campaign with an 85.5 scoring average through six rounds of play.

Heading to the event this time around, C-N is among the top 25 teams in the nation according to the Women's Golf Coaches Association preseason poll. The Eagles join the ranks of numerous other ranked teams in the field, including top-ranked Barry, hosting No. 4 UINDY, No. 5 Lynn, No. 9 Findlay, No. 10 Limestone, No. 11 Grand Valley State, No. 13 Saint Leo, No. 19 Lee and C-N's counterpart at No. 25 in Missouri-St. Louis.

"You know, I told the girls last night that we need to walk with a bit of swag," Strudwick said. "And so, you know, maybe we'll have that. They've got to have a little bit of a self-belief and, you know, puff up their chest a little bit for this event and walk with some swag. Not saying we can't work hard; that's not it.

"We deserve that top 25 national ranking because of what we did last year and I think we can grow and improve on that."

The two-day tournament begins on Monday with two rounds before a final round of 18 holes are played on Tuesday. Fans can follow live scoring throughout the event on Golfstat. A full recap and results will be posted to after each day of action.