GG: Panther golf program on the upswing
August 7, 2010Elwood High School
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If the present looks promising, the future is even brighter for Elwood High School’s girls golf team.
With just two seniors among its eight players, Elwood opened the season Thursday with a 219-229 victory over arch rival Alexandria at Cattails G.C.
Coach Kyle Hobbs expects his Lady Panthers to challenge for a Central Indiana Conference championship later this month (Aug. 28) and for at least a top-four finish in the Madison County Tournament a week earlier (Aug. 21).
“With what we did last year, I know the girls expect to win and they will be disappointed when we don’t win,” said Hobbs.
The Lady Panthers finished a program-best 10-4 in the 2009 regular season. In the program’s first two seasons, Elwood was winless in 2007 and 1-11 in 2008.
The only losses last year were to CIC champion Mississinewa, Lapel, Tipton and Northfield.
The only graduation loss was No.1 player Katie Huffman, who is headed for the University of Indianapolis golf team next week.
“Now, we don’t have the individual low scorer like we did last year with Katie,” said Hobbs, “but we do have probably seven girls who are fairly close score-wise. We could have several girls be our low scorer each match.”
On Thursday, junior Kelsey Crabtree led all golfers with a 12-over-par 47 on Cattails’ front nine.
Senior Toni Kontos shot 55, junior Taylor Hembree 58 and senior Lydia Alexander 59 to round out the scores that counted in the match.
Backing them up were juniors Alexa Middlesworth (65), Cecily Swinford (66) and Ellie Fettig (66).
Sophomore Bailey McCorkle will be eligible for next week’s three meets -- home to Heritage Christian on Monday, at Blue River on Tuesday and at the Blackford Invitational on Thursday.
Alexandria was led by Casey King’s 53. Taylor Donahue shot 57, Taylor Eden 58, Sidney Bassett 61, Anne Pappas 62 and Mackenzie Johns 82.
Elwood’s Crabtree broke 50 for the first time in her career, and she was headed for an incredible score before struggling down the stretch.
“Kelsey played really, really well,” said Hobbs. “She had it going until double-bogeying the last two holes.
“I think maybe she started adding up her score in her head, realized she had a really, really good score going, and maybe felt the pressure.
“But a 47 for her is exceptional, especially for the first time out. That’s the first time she’s ever broken 50, and I didn’t think we’d have anybody break 50 our first match.”
There’s an obvious reason Crabtree lowered her career-best.
“Kelsey and several of the other girls have really put the time in this summer, and that hard work is already paying off,” said Hobbs. “Kelsey took lessons this summer and she and three other girls played on the summer tour. They’ve put in the time, put in the work.”
That experience and work should produce the consistency the Lady Panthers need.
“Yes, consistency is what I’m looking for,” said Hobbs. “The key is, the girls can’t get down on themselves if they have a bad hole or two. They can’t think, ‘Oh, my (day) is over!.’ They just have to keep battling, even if they have a bad hole or two. I’ve told them that every one of them has to play through that, because as (even) as we are, we might have to use their score that day.”
Elwood’s maturity was obvious, too, said Hobbs.
“I thought our course management was better,” he noted. “I watched them select the right clubs for certain shots and make good decisions, maybe settling for a bogey instead of trying for a par after hitting a bad shot.
“Like I said, all that work this summer is paying off.”
He expects nothing but improvement.
“Oh, we missed quite a few close putt, probably 2- or 3-foot putts, so our score very easily could have been eight or nine shots better,” said the coach. “Obviously, all the girls were very nervous, with it being our first match of the year. Alexandria had played an 18-hole match the day before, so they probably got rid of their nerves then.”
When the county tournament is played Aug. 21 at Yule G.C. in Alexandria and the CIC on Aug. 28, also at Yule, the Lady Panthers expect to be in the hunt.
“I think the County is up for grabs between Anderson and Lapel,” said Hobbs, “but I think we definitely could finish in the middle of the teams, or maybe even third behind those two.
“And the CIC, I think we can compete for that championship. Juding from other scores we’ve seen already and knowing what other teams have back, we should be right there in contention.
“And in duals and triangulars, I think we should have a winning record.”