For the second time in three years, UCF has swept all three major women’s golf awards handed out by the American Athletic Conference. The league announced Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and all-conference teams Friday afternoon.
Senior Ashley Holder, an Orlando native and product of Lake Nona High School, earned her third American Athletic Conference Player of the Year honor. She was also the league’s Player of the Year following the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons and was also the conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2013-14.
Holder ranks as the No. 28 player in the nation. She holds a stroke average of 71.7 for the season. Seventeen of her 29 rounds this season have produced a score of par or better. Holder won the American Athletic Conference individual championship earlier this month.
“Ashley has been an anchor for us for four years,” UCF head coach Emily Marron said. “To win this award three times is a tremendous accomplishment. She’s very deserving of all the accolades she receives. I’m very proud of all that she has accomplished in her four years at UCF.”
Maria Balcazar is the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year. The native of Mexico ranks as the No. 81 player in the nation and holds a stroke average of 72.7. She ranks second on the team with three Top 10 finishes this season, including a fourth-place finish at the American Athletic Conference Championship.
“Maria has been a true spark plug for our team,” Marron said. “As a freshman, to come in and play as consistently as she has speaks to her maturity as a player. We are looking forward to Maria being a leader on our team next season.”
Coach Marron earned her second American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honor. Marron has guided the Knights to a current ranking of No. 25 in the nation, while coaching a team that won The American championship earlier this month. Including that league title, the Knights have finished fifth or better in six of their 10 events this season.
“I’m so proud of all our success this season,” Marron said. “These individual awards are the icing on the cake. I’m honored to be voted Coach of the Year by my peers. I proudly share this award with assistant coach Steve Sims and credit our team for believing in our program and putting in a great deal of hard work all season.”
All three – Holder, Balcazar and Marron – were unanimous selections for their respective honors, which were voted on by the conference’s head coaches.
In addition to the yearly awards, UCF senior Ayaka Nakayama joined Holder and Balcazar on The American’s all-conference team. UCF and SMU each had three student-athletes represented on the 10-person all-conference team.
UCF is currently preparing for the NCAA Athens Regional, set for May 8-10 at the University of Georgia. The Knights are the No. 7 seed in the region, with the top six teams in each of four regional tournaments advancing to the NCAA Championship round.