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Hinton’s ‘Fun day’ sends her to state

When Hallie Hinton was in a groove, she was singing in her head.
The North Harrison senior said she was ‘trying not to think about anything,’ during her 18-hole regional round at Country Oaks Golf Club in Montgomery.
At the conclusion of Hinton’s round, her score of 5-over par 77 put her tied for third place overall, sending her to the state championship as an individual.
‘It was a fun day overall,’ Hinton said. ‘There was only a couple times I got down on myself. When I came back and shot the 37 (on her second nine), I had a birdie that got me going. Coach Rob (Higdon) kept motivating me, and my parents gave me a thumbs up. My brother showed up, so that made it better, too.’
It was a rocky beginning for Hinton, playing the backside at Country Oaks on her first nine. She struggled on the green at hole No. 11, carding a double bogey. Eventually steadying out, Hinton played holes No. 12 to 18 2-over par to make the turn at 4-over.
‘I was hoping for the best and not expecting anything,’ Hinton said. ‘I started out the day with an early double bogey. On the backside, I had to scramble to get the 40 I had. I hit some crazy shots. On the second nine, I got myself together.’
On her second nine, Hinton got going with her first of two birdies with one on No. 4, a par-4. Two holes later, Hinton rolled in another bird. She held form and closed with a 77.
‘I wasn’t hitting the greens as much, so my chipping was helping me a bunch,’ she said. ‘I made some good one-putts to save pars. I ended up three putting No. 8, which would have given me a 36. I got real mad after that because, going into the last hole, I thought this may be the last hole I play in high school. So, I went to enjoy it, hitting a good drive down the middle.’
Higdon said Hinton’s play around the green has advanced the most from a season ago.
‘She had a great front nine, playing it 1-over,’ the coach said. ‘Her chipping has really improved this year. She’s gotten those balls closer. Cassidy (Thompson) was the same way, and she’s always been a good putter. Probably the worst part of Hallie’s game is her putting, but her chipping has really helped that out. She’s improved both a lot this year.’
North Harrison is sending a girls’ golfer to the state tournament for the first time since 2008. Allison Dooley reached state in 2005 and 2008 but failed to make the cut prior to state becoming a 36-hole event for all participants.
As a team, North Harrison was 15 strokes from the third advancing spot. The Lady Cats placed seventh with a team score of 350. The overall winner was Evansville North with a 310, advancing to state with Bedford North Lawrence (332) and Evansville Memorial (335).
‘I’m happy the way they played,’ Higdon said. ‘They gave it their best shot, and I can’t hold anything against them. I think we did have a shot at going to state because we missed out by 15 strokes. That’s just four strokes a kid. We only had two triples all day between them. We take a few shots away, and we are all going to state. That’s the part that’s tough. I’m still proud as heck of them.’
Thompson threw in a birdie on No. 18 during her round, hitting her second shot tight before sinking a putt. She finished with seven pars and one birdie for a round of 84.
North Harrison’s Katie Thompson ended with a 92, including a birdie on No. 8. Sophie Jacobi came in with five pars and a 97.
All of North Harrison’s top four players are seniors.
‘You hate to see these kids go,’ Higdon said. ‘I get two more rounds with one of them.’
Higdon has coached the core since sixth grade.
‘I told them then, if you girls work at this game, by the time you are seniors, you can do something special,’ said an emotional Higdon. ‘They did. It’s a special group. I’ll probably never have another group like it.’
Corydon Central’s team, which finished ahead of their rivals in sectional, placed 15th at regional with a 386.
The Lady Panthers were paced by Macey Capelle’s 92. She carded six pars on the hot and humid day. Also shooting scores for Corydon Central were Madison Engleman (93), Cami Schmitt (96), Emily Harbaugh (105) and Ivy Gresham (132), Corydon Central’s lone senior.
Overall medalist honors went to Evansville North’s Hadley Walts, who carded a 2-over par 74. New Albany’s Kaylan Hook was second with a 76.
‘The girls worked hard this year,’ Higdon said of the Lady Cats. ‘Sophie had a good first nine holes. She fell apart a little bit on the back nine … Katie, it has been her mental attitude towards the game. She wanted to better and got better. She’s probably improved as much as anybody this year.’
For Hinton, she will make her first trip to the state final in girls’ golf. It’s not her first trip to state, having played in the girls’ basketball 3A state final as a sophomore and junior.
‘It benefits me in basketball because I have to be so mentally strong in golf that, when I go to basketball, the mental part is nothing,’ she said.
Will she be nervous playing at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel?
‘I’ve played in front of thousands of people in basketball; this is nothing,’ Hinton said. ‘This year, I have done better at conquering things. This has been my best year mentally, just enjoying the game and not being a brat.’
Round one of the two-day, 36-hole Indiana High School Athletic Association state championship will begin Friday. Hinton will tee off in the first group, off No. 10, at 8:30 a.m.
‘I’m really happy I got out, but I would have loved for all of us to get out,’ Hinton said. ‘It’s a good group of people, good girls to be around, and Rob is a good person. I was proud of the way the girls played. They have supported me along the way. It was hard to see the (team) end.’
Players will return for their second round on Saturday, with tee times determined after round 1.
Admission is $12 per person (good for both days).
‘I am going into this tournament the same way I did regional ‘ nothing to lose,’ Hinton said. ‘It’s fun for me. It shouldn’t be a job at all; it should be like a round with the girls.’
Team scores: 1. Evansville North 310, 2. Bedford North Lawrence 332, 3. Evansville Memorial 335, 4. Vincennes Rivet 337, 5. Martinsville 344, 6. Seymour 346, 7. North Harrison 350, 8. Floyd Central 351, 9. Gibson Southern 356, 10. Jasper 356, 11. Brownstown Central 379, 12. Washington 383, 13. Pike Central 385, 14. Mt. Vernon 385, 15. Corydon Central 386, 16. Bloomington South 392, 17. Southridge 402, 18. Indian Creek 411.
Individual scores: 1. Hadley Walts (Evansville North) 74, 2. Kaylan Hook (New Albany) 76, 3t. Hallie Hinton (North Harrison) 77, 3t. Grace Waggoner (Vincennes Rivet) 77, 3t. Mallory Russell (Evansville Memorial) 77, 3t. Abby Whittington (Evansville North) 77.
Individuals advancing without a team: 1. Kaylan Hook (New Albany) 76, 2t. Hallie Hinton (North Harrison) 77, 2t. Grace Waggoner (Vincennes Rivet) 77, 4t. Emily Bennett (Martinsville) 78, 4t. Keisha Bennett (Springs Valley) 78.