Saturday, June 23, 2018
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20180525 STLadyRattlersGolfIt may be Ashley Garza’s first year as the girls’ head golf coach at Sharyland High School, but she has led the Lady Rattlers to their best ever finish at the UIL Girls Golf State Championship. That’s because the Lady Rattlers’ team made up of Raquel Flores, Laura Rodriguez, Carolina Cantu, Amanda Shinn-Roldan and Paulina Flores had a two-day score of 644 to place second among the 12 5A teams that earned the right to compete at the state tournament which was played at the White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown, Texas Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Formerly the assistant girls’ golf coach at Sharyland Pioneer High School, Garza took over the Lady Rattlers extremely successful program this year after former head coach Fernando Rodriguez retired. How successful was the program under Rodriguez? Six trips to the state tournament over the past six years should give you a pretty good idea.

“This was the seventh year in a row that the Lady Rattlers have made State,” Garza said. “Their best finish prior to this was three years ago when they placed third.”

Going into the second day of the tournament, the Lady Rattlers were in fourth place, three strokes behind third place Midlothian, four strokes behind second place Magnolia and 19 strokes behind first place Grapevine. As a result, unless Grapevine completely collapsed on the second day, first place was pretty much out of their reach as they took to the course on Tuesday. However second and third place were well within their reach and as Garza explained, her girls came through when they really needed to.

“The girls didn’t play as well as they wanted to the first day,” Garza said. “But they came out and played better the second day and they made every shot count.”
“Going into state, we had the best score from the Regional tournaments so I anticipated us being able to finish in first place,” added Garza. “But we didn’t shoot like I wanted us to on Monday. After that I was excited to be among the top four and all I could do was to hope for the best on Tuesday. As it turned out, second place is not a bad deal.”

Individually, senior Laura Rodriguez had the best two day score for the Lady Rattlers with a three over par 75 on Monday and a one over 73 on Tuesday for a four over total score. That earned her seventh place overall.

This being her third and final state tournament, Rodriguez shared what finishing second at State means to her when she said, “It means a lot for me because his is my last year at Sharyland. Having finished in third place my freshman year but doing even better as a senior, and doing it with a new coach, makes it mean even more.”

Rodriguez, who has already signed a letter of intent to attend and play golf at St. Edwards University starting in the fall, then added, “The first two times I went to State, it was at Wolfdancer (Golf Club) so this was a new course for me. It was a really nice course though and the conditions were very good.”

The elder of two sisters on the Lady Rattlers’ golf team, senior Raquel Flores shot a four over 76 the first day and a seven over 79 the second day of the State tournament. As the only four time state tournament participant on the Lady Rattlers’ team, Flores shared how it felt to make the jump from fourth place to second.

“Well of course we were proud of ourselves,” Flores said. “We knew that we were capable of doing that, so being able to see that we got there showed us that everything we did and everything we went through to get there was worth it.”

Like Rodriguez, Flores has already signed a letter of intent to play golf at the college level. However, Flores will be attending and playing for Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma.

When asked what it is about the sport of golf that has had her playing since she was 7 years old, Flores said, “It’s all about you playing against yourself. That and always wanting to be better makes you want to stick to it. You keep telling yourself that you can do better, you can do better and since you can never get to the perfect golf game, then you just keep trying to get there.”

Amanda Shinn-Roldan is the third senior on the Lady Rattlers golf team. This was her second trip to the State tournament. Shinn-Roldan shared how she and her teammates were able to make the move from fourth place to second on day two.

“We encouraged each other to play better on the second day,” Shinn-Roldan said. “Also, Coach Garza spoke to us and gave us the confidence we needed to play even better. We all thought we still had a shot at first place but we played our best and we left it all out on the course.”

Shinn-Roldan, who shot an 85 the first day and an 82 the second day was considering continuing her golf career at the college level like her two fellow seniors, but at this point, she doesn’t think that’s going to work out.

Junior Paulina Flores is the younger of the two Flores sisters on the Lady Rattlers team. Her only other exposure to the state tournament was as a member of last year’s sixth place team. Like Shinn-Roldan, the younger Flores credits her coach for the motivation they needed to make the jump from fourth place to second.

“Our coach motivated us by telling us not to give up and by reminding us that every shot counts,” Flores said. “She also kept after us to play better, and better, and better.”

Junior Carolina Cantu, who shot an 87 the first day and an 86 the second day for the Lady Rattlers, shared her theory on how she and her teammates were able to make the move from fourth place to second when she said, “I felt that the first day was the day we worked out all our nerves. On the second day, we were determined to come back because our second days are always our lowest scoring day.”