GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's golf team travels to Elgin, South Carolina this weekend for the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Championship. The three-day, 54-hole tournament will be held at the Members Club at Woodcreek this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at the par-72, 5,830-yard golf course.
This year's championship will feature six ranked teams in the Golfstat NCAA Division II Top-50 and for the first time, the winner of the SAC Championship will earn an automatic berth to next month's NCAA Super Regional in Germantown, Tennessee.
Under the direction of interim head coach Nick Forsberg, the Pioneers will head into the league championship with some momentum. Tusculum, which is ranked 30th in the nation, rallied from a 19-stroke deficit to win the Agnes McAmis Memorial. It is the second team title captured by the Pioneers this season as TC has finished in the top-three in six of its nine tournaments, including wins at the Bob Dibble Classic and McAmis Memorial, along with runner-up performances at the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate and the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate.
Leading the charge for the Pioneers is senior Ciara Rattana. Rattana, a product of Western Springs, Illinois, has a team-best 76.10 stroke average, which is on-pace to be a new Tusculum single-season record. Her scoring average is also currently ranked fourth in the league and 71st in the nation (NCAA II). She has finished in the top-20 in eight of her nine events this year, including six top-10 finishes and three times in the top-five. Rattana won her first collegiate tournament when she captured medalist honors at the McAmis Memorial. She posted a 54-hole total 224 including a final round 70 (-2) in her last competitive round at Link Hills Country Club. The 224 tied the school 54-hole record.
Rattana finished runner-up at the Dibble Classic (71-76=147) and logged a fifth-place showing at the Barton Invitational at Kiawah (79-75=154). The three-time All-Conference first team choice will be playing in her fourth SAC Championship. At last year's league event, hosted by Tusculum, Rattana finished third with a three-round score of 226 and earned SAC All-Tournament first team accolades. She also finished seventh at the 2016 SAC Championship and earned SAC All-Tournament second team honors. She also logged a 13th place performance at the 2015 SAC Tournament. Rattana's 75.81 career scoring average is the second lowest in program history.
Katie Tomassoni, a junior from Mason, Ohio, will be playing in her third SAC Championship. The two-time All-Conference selection is enjoying her best season at Tusculum where she has a 77.15 stroke average, which is second on the team and fourth-lowest in the program record book. She has amassed seven top-10 finishes including a team-leading five times in the top-5.
Tomassoni won the Dibble Classic where she posted back-to-back rounds of 73-73=146 to capture her second tournament medal of her collegiate career. She tied for third at the LeeAnn Noble Memorial and finished fourth at the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate. She opened the spring season with back-to-back fifth place finishes at the Barton Invitational and the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate. Tomassoni closed out the regular season with a ninth place showing at the McAmis Memorial.
She earned SAC All-Tournament second team laurels with her eighth place finish at the 2017 SAC Championship. She placed 29th at the 2016 SAC Tournament in her rookie campaign. Tomassoni owns a 78.23 career stroke average at Tusculum which is third-best in school history.
Junior Cydney Murrell has been the most improved player on the Tusculum roster this year. Murrell, a native of Maryville, Tennessee, has lowered her stroke average by three full shots from a season ago. Her 77.75 scoring average is third on the team and seven-best in program history. She has finished in the top-20 in six events, including five times in the top-10 including runner-up honors in her last tournament at the McAmis Memorial finishing with a 54-hole total 225, including a one-under par 71 in the final round. She leads the team with three under-par rounds this season.
Murrell finished sixth at the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate and placed eighth at the Dibble Classic and the Patsy Rendleman Invitational. Her 79.93 career stroke average is tied for the fourth best in Tusculum history.
Junior Taylor White is fourth on the team with her 80.75 stroke average including three top-20 finishes including a season-best fifth place outing at the Dibble Classic where she matched a career-high with a 73 to open that event. The Kingsport, Tennessee product also tied for 16th place at both the Barton Invitational and the McAmis Memorial. She has logged five rounds in the 70s this year.
She finished 18th at last year's SAC Championship with a 54-hole score of 233 including a one-over par 73 to open the tournament. White's 82.04 career scoring average is currently seventh in the Tusculum record book.
Rounding out the line-up for the Pioneers at the SAC Championship is freshman Mackenzie Butler. The Milan, Ohio rookie has played in seven tournaments and has been in the Tusculum starting corps for the last five events. She finished 20th at the McAmis Memorial and 21st at the Dibble Classic. She has an 88.20 scoring average and her 15 competitive rounds played are the fifth-most on the team this year.
Wingate is currently ranked 15th in the nation according to Golfstat, while Lenoir-Rhyne, the defending SAC Champion, is listed 25th. Tusculum is 30th followed by No. 35 Carson-Newman, No. 46 Anderson and No. 48 Lincoln Memorial. Also competing for the conference title are Queens University of Charlotte, Coker, Newberry, Catawba and Mars Hill.
The Pioneers won the first two SAC Women's Golf Championships held by the league in 2000 and 2001. Tusculum finished runner-up at the 2013 and 2017 league championships.