WINONA LAKE — Last year a few strokes on the back nine cost Plymouth its chance of advancing to regional. On Saturday, a few strokes here and there wound up making the difference again, but this time the Lady Pilgrims got the result they wanted.
Emily Berger saved par scrambling out of the rough on the 18th hole to force a fifth-score tiebreaker with conference rival Wawasee, and Kelly Henderson’s 107 beat out Kylee Rostochak’s 120 as Plymouth edged out the Warriors for third place to advance out of the Warsaw Girls Golf Sectional at Stonehenge Country Club.
Warsaw won the meet with a 357 on its home course behind Elizabeth Meadow’s playoff victory for the individual championship, and Rochester finished second with a 371, while Plymouth and Wawasee turned in team scores of 389, Culver Girls Academy was fifth with a score of 423, and Triton carded a team score of 478 in seventh place at the nine-team sectional.
The Pilgrims advance along with Warsaw and Rochester to next Saturday’s East Noble Regional at Cobblestone. It was a happy turn of events for Plymouth, which lost out to Wawasee by six strokes to end its season in fourth at last year’s Warsaw Sectional tourney.
“We struggled on the back nine, which we always do here, and the girls just held on,” said first-year Plymouth girls golf coach Bruce Rearick. “That’s all I asked them to do. I don’t care what you shot on the last hole, just keep playing. You just have a feeling in some of these that one shot, two shots is all it takes, so we kind of eked it in.
“If you get yourself in position, sometimes you get in and sometimes you don’t. We keep knocking at the door, and we feel good about it. We’re excited about playing next week.”
Lauren Rearick turned in a 92 to lead the Pilgrims for the day, while top-flighter Berger carded a 94, Morgan Oberley and Emily Denney turned in respective scores of 101 and 102, and Henderson’s 107 lifted the team to the tiebreak victory over Wawasee.
“We were looking at the cards, and we got a couple breaks where the girls came back and made some great scores,” said Plymouth’s skipper. “We talked about Emily making that par on 18. Lauren comes back and makes two pars in a row after a double, so those were the kinds of things that got us through.
“Kelly’s been solid for us all year. She’s maybe not always shot as low a score as she can, but she’s had some great rounds. It’s just like I said the other day, we’ve got five girls that play pretty close, and that’s a huge advantage. Like that poor girl from Wawasee today, she’s got to carry the whole load, and that’s tough to do.”
The Lady Eagles struggled on the back nine at Stonehenge to fall out of contention for a team regional berth shortly after the turn, but Samantha Seibel turned in the best round of her senior year to finish with an 86 in the second individual slot out to the regional round of play, and Mackenzie Toth’s 95 earned her the final individual berth to East Noble.
CGA head coach Fred Haase was pleased to see both make the cut after Toth beat out Seibel in a three-way playoff for the final individual ticket to regionals last year at Stonehenge.
“They tied for the last spot, and Mackenzie won the playoff, so I was not in a good situation last year. The best I could hope for was one winning and one losing, so it’s a lot better with both of them moving on,” Haase recalled.
“The water holes hurt us, and I think I knew by 11 or 12 we weren’t going to make it out as a team. At that point I just had to hope that Samantha and Mackenzie would make it out, and they did, so I think it turned out as well as I would have expected.”
Finishing out their seasons for CGA, Maureen Reed shot 118, Makenna Morsches shot 124, and Gracen Hirschy carded a 126 as the Eagles finished in fifth place in the team standings.
“We had a good season,” said Haase. “The girls didn’t even come back until Aug. 15, so we were three weeks behind to start. Who knows what they might have done if we had those extra few weeks, but they improved a lot and I was happy with the way we finished. We wound up 11-5 during the regular season and four of those losses were by three or four strokes. They were close to having a really good season.”
Triton number one Hannah Jennings was the best hope to advance for the Lady Trojans, but she struggled with her short game on the back nine to finish in 99, four strokes out of contention.
“The big difference for her today, and it’s been a problem with her all year, was her short game,” said Triton coach Jack Carpenter. “She probably hit the ball better today than I’ve seen from her all year, but 22 putts on the back nine was a killer. I think 95 gets out, she shoots 99. Sixteen putts on the front nine, which is probably pretty good for her, she does the same thing on the back nine she gets out.”
Meanwhile for Triton, Elizabeth Erne carded 106, Lillie Berger shot 136, Kayle Kreft shot 137, and Courtney Zentz carded a 182 as the Trojans closed out their season with a pair of wins over Whitko and Tippecanoe Valley.
“Our goal today was — we were seeded next to last — to beat Whitko and they beat us three times this year, so that was nice. We beat Whitko and we beat Tippecanoe Valley easily,” said Carpenter. “From the beginning to the end, when you start off with two girls who have any experience and three girls who have never picked up a club before in their life… it’s just so hard when you start on a Friday and you’re playing your first match on a Tuesday, and you have three girls who know nothing about etiquette, rules, anything like that. So you have to give them credit; it was very courageous with the three girls who never played to decide to come out because it can be embarrassing… and they did a good job hanging in there this year.”
• WARSAW SECTIONAL
At Stonehenge (par 72)
TEAM SCORES: 1. WARSAW 357, 2. ROCHESTER 371, 3. PLYMOUTH 389, 4. WAWASEE 389, 5. CULVER GIRLS ACADEMY 423, 6. COLUMBIA CITY 441, 7. TRITON 478, 8. WHITKO 493, 9. TIPPECANOE VALLEY 540.
Medalist — Elizabeth Meadows (Warsaw) 85.
WARSAW (357): Nichole Lalonde 88, Elizabeth Meadows 85, Alexis Manwaring 91, Morgan Sands 93, Ashley Murrell 118.
ROCHESTER (371): Karsten Lingenfelter 95, Kovenant Lingenfelter 88, Lauren Daugherty 88, Kaitlin Foust 100, Lindsay Mitchell 118.
PLYMOUTH (389): Emily Berger 94, Lauren Rearick 92, Emily Denney 102, Morgan Oberley 101, Kelly Henderson 107.
WAWASEE (389): Elizabeth Jackson 96, Mikayla Mawhorter 85, Kylee Rostochak 120, Alex Goralczyk 103, Courtney McDaniel 105.
CGA (423): Samantha Seibel 86, Mackenzie Toth 95, Maureen Reed 118, Gracen Hirschy 126, Makenna Morches 124.
TRITON (478): Hannah Jennings 99, Elizabeth Erne 106, Lillie Berger 136, Courtney Zentz 182, Kayla Kreft 137.
TIPPECANOE VALLEY (540): Allyson Ross 101, Kara Eaton 132, Elizabeth VanMeter 128, Emily Gelbaugh 179.