This golf season wasn’t about the Lady Pirates golf team earning a berth to the Div. II state tournament. It was about continuing the upward swing of momentum that came on the heels of last year’s state tournament berth that has led to their team scores diving lower and lower ever since. All season long the Lady Pirates have been focused on not just qualifying for state, but also getting there, having an impact and competing for a state title.
One big part of that journey was accomplished on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at Cambridge Country Club, where Garaway carved up the competition on its way to a district title in which it was never challenged.
Leading the way on the scorecard was junior Jocelyn Troyer, who captured medalist honors by firing an unbelievable 70. She got plenty of help as Lee Ann Williams tacked on a 79, Kalyn Mast carded an 87, Halley Hallman scored a 95 and Helena Immel added a 98.
Garaway’s total of 331 was a far cry from the rest of the field with Minerva placing second at 358, Beaver Local third at 362 and River View fourth at 364.
On a course that head coach Matt Hallman said was probably the most challenging course of the year for his team, Garaway applied the pressure to the field and never let up as it captured the Div. II district title.
“They were still ecstatic about winning districts even though they have done it before,” Hallman said. “We have taken first place in a lot of tournaments throughout the season, and while they are getting used to it, there is always something great about winning a district title. I know we were a little nervous coming in, but we settled in quickly and went to work and played some really consistent golf all day long. It was encouraging and exciting to watch.”
Last season the Lady Pirates traveled to Columbus to play the Gray Course at the Ohio State University, and a ninth-place finish in the 12-team Div. II competition was not what the team was hoping for.
This year with a load of experience back, the Lady Ps expect to produce a much better showing.
Their two-day team score of 753 was well off the winning pace of 661, set by champion Milan Edison, and well off of the scores they were used to posting. However, the Lady Pirates score on day two was a 369, their best 18-hole score of the year.
This year the team has not even approached that score. Its worst effort this year came at Skyland Pines Golf Course on a day that started out rainy and cold and then later became infuriatingly hot and humid.
Other than that the Lady Pirates have been posting numbers well below last year’s state score, and the 331 falls in line with a number that could give them a state title if they duplicate it twice at state.
Last year Troyer shot 80-78, Mast fired off a 92-93, Williams carded a 95-91 and Immel shot a 117-107.
One huge difference for Garaway this season is that they have a fifth attending state, something they were missing last year, meaning there was no room for error and all four scores would have to count. Adding Hallman to the mix now gives them five players, and all could potentially count toward their score.
“It has completely changed the mind-set of our team,” coach Hallman said of adding the fifth player to the mix. “The dynamics have gone from thinking they had to be perfect to being able to relax because they know they have someone there to pick them up. These girls have complemented each other all season, and it has made for more peaceful play when they aren’t as worried about having to be perfect.”
With all four of last year’s competitors returning along with a quality fifth player, it gives the Lady Pirates plenty of confidence that they will improve drastically from last year’s effort. “It gives us the depth we were lacking last season,” Hallman said.
While they were thrilled to make a state appearance last season, the Lady Pirates have a very different attitude going into this year, and the scenario of playing at the big venue at state won’t be as overwhelming.
“It’s a whole different mentality,” Hallman said. “It’s not about just getting there, but it’s about going and excelling and showing everyone that we can compete and we belong there. Expectations are completely different this year.”