Best round puts Lady Panthers in hunt
Brian Smith, Sports Editor, [email protected]
At the start of the girls’ golf season, Corydon Central wasn’t sure where’d they fit in the Mid-Southern Conference picture.
Graduating three seniors and returning two experienced players, the Lady Panthers knew defending the MSC crown would be a tall task. Come Saturday at Shadowood Golf Course in Seymour, Corydon Central found itself in the hunt while on the course.
After 18 holes, prohibitive favorite Scottsburg was able to hold off the upset-minded Lady Panthers with a score of 413. Corydon Central tallied 421.
“Going into the season, we weren’t sure if we’d have a shot to win or even be second,” said Corydon Central coach Eric Rowland. “These girls have come out and worked hard. I’m very happy. If we can get 10 strokes off, we might have a shot to get out (at sectional).”
One of Corydon Central’s returnees, Emily Harbaugh, didn’t get the start she wanted on Saturday. The middle part of her round, however, was much more positive. Sitting at 5-over through three holes, Harbaugh admitted she was on the brink of crying.
“I had a horrible start,” she said. “After that start, I got three pars and a bogey, so I got on a roll. From there, I felt better. I was more confident and needed to fix my drives.”
Harbaugh rolled to a 6-over par 42 on the front nine, closing with an 89, one stroke behind medalist Avery Bottorff (88) of Scottsburg.
“That was by far her best effort this year,” Rowland said of Harbaugh. “I pushed her to be around 45 for us to have a shot today. I told her to relax and have fun after her start. She started to make some shots, and her round took off from there.”
Starting on hole 17, Harbaugh played in the same group as Bottorff, so she knew her standing individually. Clarksville’s Karena Knight was in a different group but closed with an 89, even with Harbaugh.
Harbaugh had a lead with several holes to go, but a birdie by Bottorff on No. 14 set her up for a chance to pass Harbaugh. Tied going into the final hole, Bottorff got up and down for a par on No. 16 while Harbaugh had a bogey.
“I could have won it if I didn’t mess up on the last two holes,” said Harbaugh. “But, it’s fine. I think it got in my head too much.”
Closing with six pars, Harbaugh nearly aced No. 13, a short par-3. Her iron shot rolled just beyond the cup.
“My club I used was my 100-yard club, but it was around a 70-yard shot,” said Harbaugh. “I had to tell myself to not go too far, but it was perfect. The putt was short but really hard because it was downhill. I barely tapped it, but it ended up good with the par.”
Fellow senior Sidney Cook earned All-Mid-Southern Conference honors by placing sixth with a 100. She tallied five pars, including three on the front nine where she shot a 47.
Paige Richardson was steady for Corydon Central as well, going 55-56 to shoot 111 as a first-year player to earn All-MSC honorable mention. The Lady Panthers also sent out Abby Russel (121) and Chloe Cannon (134).
“I’m so proud of the younger girls,” said Harbaugh. “I didn’t think we’d get second place at the beginning of the year. There was no way. I’m especially proud of Paige; she has really improved.”
Rowland said the Lady Panthers are striking the ball well, but there is still work to do.
“We still have work to do around the green to get it up and in,” he said. “Paige had a great day. They all missed some shots. We’ve worked hard on our short game. We saw it pay off with Emily today. She switched putters about halfway though the year and is getting more and more confident.”
For North Harrison, senior Alexis Blessinger played in her final MSC meet and came away with fifth place, carding a 99. A highlight for her was a birdie on No. 5, a par-5.
“I got a birdie on No. 5, which was pretty awesome,” she said. “I had a beautiful drive then a good chip onto the green. Then, I had probably my best putt of the day for a birdie that went in.”
The effort earned Blessinger a spot among the All-MSC performers.
“My drives were excellent today,” said Blessinger. “My putts, they were tough. I could have probably dropped my score closer to 90 if I would have putted better. My chip shots were good for the most part. I had a couple that went off the green, but, other than that, my drives held it together.”
North Harrison’s Halle Baumgardner notched a birdie on hole No. 2, setting up an All-MSC honorable mention round of 119. The Lady Cats also recorded scores from Hannah Swanson (123) and Julia Campbell (128).
The season now shifts to sectional on Saturday, where Old Capital Golf Club will host at 1 p.m.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going into next week,” said Harbaugh. “I really needed it because I blew up at sectional last year. I want to try to make it out. If I shoot like I did today, I can have a shot to make it out. I need the confidence.”
Blessinger said she will try to use her knowledge of Old Cap to her advantage.
“I’m kind of sad about it being my last sectional,” she said. “I like that we get to have sectional on our home course. I know all the holes like the back of my hand, so I’m excited about it.”
Team scores: 1. Scottsburg 413, 2. Corydon Central 421, 3. Brownstown Central 437, 4. Silver Creek 468, 5. North Harrison 469, 6. Clarksville 475, 7. Salem 517.
Individual scores (top 10 All-MSC): 1. Avery Bottorff (Scot) 88, 2. Karena Knight (Clark) 89, 3. Emily Harbaugh (CC) 89, 4. Jacy Stricker (SiCr) 93, 5. Alexis Blessinger (NH) 99, 6. Sidney Cook (CC) 100, 7. Makayla Barger (Scot) 100, 8. Payton Ault (BC) 105, 9. Ashlyn Fox (BC) 108, 10t. Lexie Satterthwaite (BC) 109, 10t. Molly McGannon (Scot) 109.