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Women’s golf team readies with season on the horizon

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Sacramento State sophomore Sofie Babic is one of four returning golfers for the Hornets that have helped lead the team to second, 13th, and first place finishes in three tournaments to start the year.

Sacramento State sophomore Sofie Babic is one of four returning golfers for the Hornets that have helped lead the team to second, 13th, and first place finishes in three tournaments to start the year.

Courtesy of Bob Solorio/Sac State Athletics

Courtesy of Bob Solorio/Sac State Athletics

Sacramento State sophomore Sofie Babic is one of four returning golfers for the Hornets that have helped lead the team to second, 13th, and first place finishes in three tournaments to start the year.

Thomas Frey

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Winning the Big Sky Conference women’s golf tournament did more than bring back a trophy to Sacramento State — it brought along a sense of confidence and motivation to repeat as champions.

The Hornets return four of their five starters from a year ago in senior Astha Madan, junior Julia Becker and sophomores Sofie Babic and Nishtha Madan.

“Those are the four best players we have ever had,” said David Sutherland, the Hornets head coach. “We have the ability this year to win events we haven’t won in the past, to beat teams in the Power 5 Conferences. It’s the best team I’ve ever coached.”

Babic played as an amateur on the Swedish Skandia Tour over the summer while Astha and her sister Nishtha returned to Sacramento early from their home in India to work with Becker, freshman Corinne Viden and the rest of the team in an effort to recapture the conference crown.

“I have worked with a swing coach and made swing changes,” Astha Madan said after averaging a score of 75.28 per round last season. “It is much better than it was a year ago.”

The practices and qualifying rounds have gotten competitive to the point that last year’s starters —  who all averaged a score under 76 per round — have competition to keep their starting spots.

“I think everyone on the team can play in the top five,” Babic said. “Last year it was the same five who went to every event. This year, it could be anyone.”

The main competitors for the top five starting spots are junior Katie Dunaway, sophomores Danielle Lozano and Amelia Hicks, and Viden, a freshman from Sweden.  

While there may be competition, it will be difficult to take any of the incumbent four out of the starting lineup. Becker is coming off a season where she was named to the Big Sky first team, while winning the Rainbow Wahine Invitational and finishing in a tie for first at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic.

The Madan sisters were both named to the Big Sky third team. Astha posted three top 10 finishes and an average score of 75.28, while Nishtha averaged a 75.55 and had the highest score on the team in the NCAA Regional.

Babic was also named third team all-conference after finishing the season with a 75.41 average and three finishes in the top five as a freshman. Aside from playing on the professional tour in Sweden, she spent at least four hours per day working on all aspects of her game and lifted weights to add power to her drives.

“I really focused on my swing and tried to fix it a little bit,” Babic said. “When you don’t have school, you have so much more time to practice.”

Babic said she liked how the Hornets gelled as a team last year and how each member of the team is a better player then they were a season ago.

“The best part of it was that everyone was contributing to it,” Babic said after her first year in the United States. “We are all very solid players and I think we will be even better this year. Winning conference, I think that is big.”

Sac State will open its season Sept. 18 in the Cougar Cup hosted by Washington State in Pullman, Washington.

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