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Go low! Lady Cats fire best 18 holes

Go low! Lady Cats fire best 18 holes
Go low! Lady Cats fire best 18 holes
Aiming for the green, North Harrison's Cassidy Thompson sends a shot off the No. 18 fairway at Old Capital Golf Club. The junior placed fifth overall. Photo by Brian Smith

Coaches are only allowed, with the exception of giving rulings, to speak with golfers between holes during Indiana High School Athletic Association post-season play.
North Harrison coach Rob Higdon didn’t need words to know his girls were going to be fine at Saturday’s Corydon Central Sectional at Old Capital Golf Club. He saw all he needed with wide grins.
‘The happiest part of the day was when I saw Hallie (Hinton) after taking an eight on No. 6, then after Cassidy (Thompson) took a seven on No. 2; they were both smiling,’ Higdon said. ‘When I saw the smiles after those two holes, I knew things would be good.’
Good they were. When the first four groups reported scores, the Lady Cats were in a tie with favorite Floyd Central. Once the fifth scores came in, the Lady Highlanders tallied a 353 while North Harrison took runner-up honors with a 368. The placement advanced North Harrison to the Washington Regional.
‘I didn’t realize how close we were,’ Thompson said. ‘I knew I played some holes better than the Floyd girl I was playing with, then there were some holes she did better than me on. I didn’t realize how close it was while playing. It shows how much we have improved.’
‘I’m tickled to death,’ Higdon said after his team received runner-up ribbons. ‘That’s our lowest score of the year. It’s the best time to have it. It’s good for the kids. They deserve it.’
The junior-laden Lady Cats were led by Hinton’s 76.
Opening the day on the No. 1 tee, Hinton put together an impressive start. Attacking the first par-four, Hinton put in a birdie followed by a par. Another birdie followed, getting her to 2-under par.
‘I had a couple birdies here and there,’ Hinton said. ‘I saved myself with a couple really good putts. My short game really came around for me today. The beginning of the season that was my weakest part.’
Hinton had one trouble hole, No. 6, but bounced back to follow a triple with a pair of consecutive pars. Overall, Hinton finished her round of 18 holes with 11 pars and two birdies.
‘I was really proud of myself,’ she said. ‘I had one hiccup hole where I had the eight on a par-five, but I just let it go.’
Teammate Cassidy Thompson caught fire over the final stretch of holes as the sun started to set. Birdie putts fell on Nos. 15 and 16. She closed out her round of 83 with a pair of pars.
‘I had a slow start on the beginning holes, but I knew I wasn’t in bad shape,’ Thompson said. ‘Other than a few bogeys, I put together a few birdies in a row then a few pars.’
Thompson said it felt good to come in with an 83 after a rough sectional showing a year ago. It was a 44-stroke improvement from last season’s post-season performance for the fifth-place finisher.
‘I did really bad last year, so I knew what not to do coming into this year,’ she added. ‘I better knew how to get out of bad situations. That has helped me a lot.’
Katie Alexander carded a birdie on No. 13, prompting a 96. She also had a pair of pars. Fellow junior Sophia Jacobi shot 113, including a par on No. 6. Alexis Blessinger, a freshman, shot 114 for the Lady Cats.
‘I don’t have words,’ Jacobi said. ‘We were all real nervous, but knowing all our hard work paid off is the best feeling in the world.’
Floyd Central not only held the team title, but also the medalist in Lauren Decker. She shot a 1-over par 72 (course played as par-71, converting No. 10 to a par-3). Sidney LaDuke came in third overall, carding a 79 for the Lady Highlanders.
‘I really enjoyed playing with Lauren,’ Hinton said. ‘She motivated me, and I motivated her. We kind of pushed each other to keep going. We kept saying it was golf, take it shot for shot.’
Corydon Central’s squad didn’t have its best round of the year but came away in fifth place, shooting 424.
Macey Capelle got going on the back nine, shooting a 43, including pars on Nos. 13 and 14. To keep the string going, Capelle put in a birdie on No. 15. She closed her round with a 94.
‘She’s come a long way since an unexpected surgery sidelined her early on this season,’ Corydon Central coach Chase Best said of Capelle. ‘She finished the year playing some very good golf, and I am very proud of her.’
Fellow sophomore Cami Schmitt went 52 on the front and 51 on the back to conclude her round with a 103. Emily Harbaugh, a freshman, shot 113 for the Lady Panthers, while junior Sophie Cesar shot 114 and Madison Engleman shot a 115.
Among the eight team scores, South Central reached the clubhouse with a combined score of 454, good for sixth place.
The Lady Rebels’ top performance came from freshman Sidney Cook. Her round of 106 included a birdie on the par-3 No. 16 hole.
Also completing rounds for South Central were the senior trio of Grace Riley (112), Destiny Avis (115) and Brooklyn Woertz (121).
Providence’s Alexa Wilson, of Corydon, shot an 85. She had a stellar back nine, navigating the course with a 3-over par 38. Making the turn, Wilson had a birdie on No. 10, followed by a series of five pars over the final seven holes.
Borden’s Makenzie Smith, the program’s lone participant, advanced as an individual with an 82. Also moving on was Silver Creek’s Liv Schmidt, who shot an 83, along with Wilson.
The girls’ regional, hosted by Washington at Country Oaks Golf Club, is set for Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The feeder sectionals are Bedford North Lawrence, Bloomington North, Corydon Central, Evansville Memorial, Jasper and North Daviess. The top three teams along with the top five low individuals not on an advancing team move on to the state finals.
Hinton will make her third appearance at the regional level.
‘It’s a learning experience, just like every round of golf. You learn from your mistakes and keep going,’ Hinton said of the message to teammates about what lies ahead Saturday.
Team scores (Top 3 advance to regional): 1. Floyd Central 353, 2. North Harrison 368, 3. New Albany 395, 4. Providence 396, 5. Corydon Central 424, 6. South Central 454, 7. Jeffersonville 521, 8. Christian Academy of Indiana 547.
Individual scores: 1. Lauren Decker (FC) 72, 2. Hallie Hinton (NH) 76, 3. Sydney LaDuke (FC) 79, 4. Makenzie Smith (Borden) 82, 5. Cassidy Thompson (NH) 83.
Individuals advancing without a team: 1. Makenzie Smith (Borden) 82, 2. Liv Schmidt (Silver Creek) 83, 3. Alexa Wilson (P) 85.