Lilly Middleton is one of the favorites to take over the girls golf top spot in the SBAAC left vacant by the graduation of Clinton-Massie’s Gabby Woods.
The Wilmington High School junior was runnerup in the league last year and a district qualifier. She’s had a successful summer on the links and will be “a leader by example” for the Lady Hurricane, third-year head coach Pat Black said.
WHS was third in the league tournament last season with Middleton shooting an 82.
But after the talented third-year player, Black has little depth on the WHS squad. Sixth players from last year’s team graduated and another will not return, according to Black.
Letterwinners Carsyn Custis and Rachel Lowe are back for another season. Katie Murphy, a sophomore, is out for the first time. She is the sister of former WHS boys golf standout Jack Murphy.
Black said his young squad will need consistency but could contend for an SBAAC title if each player plays up to their ability.
The Blanchester girls golf team has three returning starters from last year’s 3-16 squad.
The Ladycats graduated Ashlin Benne, who was second team All-SBAAC in 2019 on the girls side. Her stroke average was 20th overall when she played in matches with the BHS boys team.
Girls head coach Jamey Grogg returns for his second season.
And even though the three returning players were starters in 2019, there are aspects of the game that need improvement.
The coaches said “finding our touch inside 50 yards and eliminating three putts” are key to the season.
But if the team has good course management, realizes it does not need to hit driver on eveyr hole an dplays into their bags better with the clubs they feel most comfortable with, then being in contention for an SBAAC title is possible in 2020.
Things won’t be quite the same in 2020 for the Clinton-Massie girls golf team.
Afterall, three-time SBAAC Player of the Year Gabby Woods won’t be around. Woods, who graduated, tied for fourth in the state tournament last season.
The Lady Falcons won back-to-back SBAAC titles and were sectional runnersup in 2019. They qualified for the district tournament in each of Woods’ four seasons on Lebanon Road.
But coach Tim McGraw, in his fifth season at the helm, said his 2020 squad is “relaxed” and “eager to play this year.”
“Just a great group of young ladies to be around,” he said. “They know things are a little different this year but are still the same fun bunch that I enjoyed being around last year.”
Four seniors return to the lineup, led by second team All-SBAAC players in 2019 Taylor Anderson and Pearl Spurlock.
Ella McCarren is a newcomer to keep an eye on, McGraw said.
The coach knows goal titles are won around the green and said his team needs to improve its chipping and putting. “We need to be able to save strokes on and around the greens,” he added.
But a third straight league title isn’t out of the question, McGraw said, with consistent play.
“We need girls to step up night in and night out,” he said.
East Clinton Girls
The East Clinton girls golf team will be coached again in 2020 by Brian Carey.
Team members are Maggie Mathews, Gretchen Boggs, Kamille Helsel, Jordan Collom and Madison Frazier.
Brian Miller will close out a stellar golf career at Blanchester High School this fall.
The senior has been a three-year starter and two-team All-SBAAC player for head coach Aaron Lawson, who will be assisted by Jamey Grogg. Miller was sixth overall and fourth in the National Division among SBAAC golfers in terms of stroke average at 43.6.
Talent aside, Lawson said Miller “brings a great attitude to practice every day. He is like having a coach present when I am not around. The younger guys will be able to learn a lot from him.
Logan Heitzman, a second team All-SBAAC player in 2019, graduated this past spring for BHS.
In all there are three returning starters to the team. Lawson said his squad needs to refine its short game and putting skills to improve.
“Find our touch inside 50 yards and eliminating three putts,” he said.
With Miller leading the way, the Wildcats can contend in the SBAAC National Division if they have good course management, realize they do not need to hit driver on every hole and play with the clubs they feel most comfortable with, Lawson said.
After Phil Gilmore’s successful run as the Wilmington High School boys golf coach, Zach Williams takes over the program.
Gilmore guided WHS to the SBAAC American Division championship last season. Led by four-time first team All-SBAAC golfer Jack Murphy, the Hurricane won back-to-back championships. Murphy was a two-time SBAAC Player of the Year and three time district qualifier.
However, Murphy and Brady Evans, No. 2 WHS player in the league tournament, have both graduated.
Williams, who also is the head coach of the WHS girls basketball team, will have returning players Brady Leathley and Braydon Conley at the top of the roster. Both were second team All-SBAAC in 2019 and have taken leadership of the 2020 Hurricane squad, Williams said.
Seeking consistency from a young team, Williams said this squad is a laid back group with an eagerness to do well. If the young players step up and the team overall shows consistency, Williams believes WHS can contend in the American Division.
“Looking forward to navigating this season with this group of young men,” said Williams.
For the first time in a number of years, the Clinton-Massie boys golf program will have a junior varsity team, coach Phil Larrick said.
With 11 players on the roster, the Falcons will be able to field two full teams.
Ethan Johnson and Dakota Gasaway, both All-SBAAC second teamers in 2019, provide a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the varsity squad, Larrick said.
“Their overall effort and time spent on the course has clearly made them the leaders of the team,” the veteran coach said.
In all, four starters and five letterwinners return for the Falcons, who were 21-11 last season and third in the American Division tournament in 2019.
Larrick was the middle coach 18 years and is now in his third season as the varsity coach. He will be assisted by Clayton Morgan.
Gabby Woods, who had the lowest scoring average on the team, and Jonathan Rumbarger do not return for Larrick. But five freshmen, including newcomer of note Cameron Morgan, and a solid eighth grade class, give the Falcons hope for the future.
In 2020, though, Larrick said short game improvement and course management can lead to contention if a couple players step up behind Gasaway and Johnson. The roster includes senior Clay Carroll, senior Sam Glass, senior Michael Moritz, sophomore George Chowning, freshman Logan Miller, freshman Ethan Robinett, freshman Samuel Janis and freshman Quinton Smith.
East Clinton Boys
Led by Gage McConahay, East Clinton won the SBAAC National Division tournament last season.
But McConahay, the National Division player of the year, has graduated.
Mike Deters return as the Astros head coach. EC will play its home matches at Snow Hill Country Club.