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Post: Blog2_Post
  • Val T.

Bailey shoots 34, leads Rochester past Pioneer

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

STAR CITY — The Rochester girls golf team might be low in numbers, but one of them is Olivia Bailey, and she tends to shoot a low number.

Bailey followed up a 71 over 18 holes at the Homestead Invitational on Monday with a 1-under-par 34 over the front nine at Pond View Golf Course Thursday to lead the Lady Zs to a 170-232 win over host and sectional rival Pioneer.

Ava Thomas added a 42, Payton Moore had a 43, and Lexi Haughs had a 51 for Rochester.

Mia McKaig led Pioneer with a 48. McKaig, a sophomore, is the only Pioneer player with previous experience playing competitive golf.

The Lady Panther newcomers included Kendra Hanson, who shot a 58; Kierra Frame, who had a 61; Baylee Rowan, who carded a 65; and Addie Nethercutt, who shot a 67.

Bailey shot a 72 at Chestnut Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne in a Junior Tour event on July 25. Then she followed it with the aforementioned 71 at Chestnut Hills six days later in the high school season opener.

However, Pond View was nothing like Chestnut Hills, according to Rochester coach Chad Thomas. Thomas said Pond View was “a lot shorter” but also tighter and with much slower greens than Chestnut Hills.

So adjusting to the speed of the putts was critical.

“She has played phenomenal this summer, and it has carried over,” Thomas said. “She had her career round there in Fort Wayne at Chestnut Hills at the IGA (Indiana Golf Association) event and shot even-par and then she goes back the next week for the Homestead Invite and has another career round there and shoots 71.

“So she may buy a membership there, I don’t know.”

Haughs is the newcomer to the varsity. She replaces Delaney Barkman and Savanah Eccles, who graduated.

“She’s very, very strong,” Thomas said. “As a freshman, she’s physically stronger than Ava and Olivia were as freshmen, and right now, if we did a bench press contest and all that, she’d still probably still kick their butts. So she is very strong. She can create a lot of club head speed. It’s just trying to get that club head squared impact is what we’re working on now and thinking her way around a golf course, what to do in certain situations and trying to keep the ball in play.”

Pioneer coach Megan Peppers said that many of her golfers had not played until five weeks ago. Despite the inexperience of the players, she said the team is “way more competitive than we think we are.” She said she would like for the team to be competitive by the end of the season.

“It’s neat to see how much they improve,” Peppers said. “It’s hard for them to come play these meets when we have girls that have played for years and years, but it’s a neat process. I like to see how much improvement they can make.”

Peppers said teaching proper swing mechanics can only help so much. Eventually, a golfer must experience different shots for themselves. There is also teaching golf etiquette and the mental aspect of the game.

“Honestly, you can only teach them how to swing so many times,” Peppers said. “Eventually, you’ve got to go out there and do it. And the rest of it is … etiquette and it’s a mid game, and you’re playing against yourself, and especially for teenage girls, that’s something you really have to learn. It’s a really tough process for them. So we spend probably two weeks learning the actual physical part of how to swing the club and what to do. All the rest of it is the rules and the etiquette and how to get out of your own head and just play the game.”

at Pond View Golf Course, Star City, Thursday (front nine, par 35)

ROCHESTER (170): Olivia Bailey 34, Ava Thomas 42, Payton Moore 43, Lexi Haughs 51

PIONEER (232): Mia McKaig 48, Kendra Hanson 58, Kierra Frame 61, Baylee Rowan 65, (Addie Nethercutt 67)




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