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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

Local landscape lined with change

Hernando Today correspondent


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The 2013 Hernando County prep girls golf season begins in earnest this week with a completely remodeled look.

Of last season's 31 female linksters nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of the total - or 21 players - failed to return this season.

Sixteen players graduated in June including the county's top five players from last season.

Moreover, the coaching carousel continues with new mentors in place at Springstead and Central.

The last five seasons have yielded five Hernando County titles for Kathleen Long's troops at Springstead. She stepped down this past spring, passing the coaching clipboard to Bill Vonada.

Long's crew completed a sensational run featuring a 30-match winning skein. Over the past five seasons, SHS has claimed 35 wins across 36 matches.

The recent Eagle commencement exercises cost SHS its four-time Player of the Year Megan Berube (who signed a Division I scholarship with Indiana State University), three-time All-County selection Emma Betters and two-year performer Kearstin Yarbrough.

The Lady Eagles do return proven commodities: seniors Kylie Van Meter (48.9 scoring average in 2012) and Kiki Schau (51.1).

Schau, a two-time All-County selection (2010-11), is a rare four-year starter.

Van Meter, who nearly tied Betters for fifth place in scoring last fall (48.6-48.9), begins her third varsity season.

According to Coach Vonada, only junior Summer Taylor has been officially added to the SHS roster.

On the makeup of his current squad, "I see two great leaders representing our school in Kiki and Kylie," pointed out Coach Vonada. "But those girls need some more bodies to lead.

"Golf is a tricky sport. If you didn't pick it up early, you probably won't pick it up until much later. At this point, we're pounding the pavement looking for girls," declared the first-year Eagle mentor.

"What I like most about our two seniors is that they're very serious about it and they practice on their own," Vonada said. "That shows me a lot of dedication. It's like they're always looking for ways to get better."

SHS finished as district runner-up in 2012 in Class 2A, District 5 at Ocala-Pine Oaks, and placed fifth out of eight teams in the rugged 2A-Region II Tournament at the Ocala Golf Club.

Vonada's troops will be aiming for the newly realigned, six-team 2A-13 Tournament hosted by Nature Coast Technical at Silverthorn on Oct. 14.

The 2A-V Tournament will be hosted by Mitchell and is set for Oct.22 at Heritage Springs Country Club.

???Last fall, Nature Coast finished 4-3 overall. Two of its setbacks arrived courtesy of Springstead, by 31 and 34 strokes.

In the Hernando County Championship at The Heather in Weeki Wachee, NCT fell victim to SHS by 19 shots, 174-193.

The Lady Sharks rallied to capture their first-ever district championship (in the six-team 1A-8) at Brooksville's Rivard Country Club before finishing third in the 1A-III Tournament at Eustis' Black Bear Golf Club.

Like Springstead, NCT graduated its finest player - four-year starter and four-time All-County selection Kae Elliott (43.6) - along with seniors Cassidy Verdi and Ashley Roth.

Sixth-year NCT skipper Cheryl Paradis does return three starters: senior and captain Kaitlyn Glynn (60.9), junior Taylor Zack (62.8) and sophomore Maddy Pickersgill (57.4).

Lady Shark newbies this fall include: freshmen Stephanie Vega and Hailey Neuhausen, and juniors Autumn Alexis and Jessica Porter.

"I definitely think we are the team to beat," described Coach Paradis. "We return three good golfers who are all excited for the season to begin.

"As far as the newbies, I see Hailey as a nice fit as our fourth player."

On defending the district title, "Last year was very different," noted Paradis. "You can't replace what Kae meant to our team. She had a phenomenal attitude and an even better temperament on and off the course - it really rubbed off on everyone else.

"This is a brand-new set of girls. District-wise, things have changed. There's no Crystal River or Pasco, so I feel confident we can be in the mix," detailed Paradis. "Right now, Fivay is the team to beat. On paper, they have four girls who can all shoot in the 40s - that's tough to beat."

After not fielding a girls golf team in 2010, Hernando High has slowly begun to rebuild. A 1-6 campaign in 2011 was followed by a 5-4-1 run last fall.

HHS finished third in the county meet and followed by turning heads with a fine second-place effort in the 1A-8 Tourney. At regionals, the Lady Leopards finished fifth out of nine teams.

Of Hernando's eight players last fall, six are not back including four seniors and junior Eugenia Urso.

Urso, known by her teammates as "Italy," finished fourth in the scoring race in 2012 at 45.3 shots per nine holes. She was the Lady Leopards' lone All-County selection.

HHS does return two starters: senior Taylor Milligan (62.4) and Lauren Moore (59.4).

Purple and Gold newcomers include: freshman Elise Lewis, sophomore Kaylee Flaherty, juniors Erika Lewis, Cheyenne Marshall and Chanyanuch Pongsane, and seniors Heather Weeks and Nikki Patrick.

"Our experienced girls (Moore and Milligan) are stepping up leadership-wise," pointed Coach Ellis. "Problem is with all the late-afternoon showers we've barely had any time to practice."

On the Lady Leopards' new faces, Ellis said, "Erika is a natural out there. She's picked things up really quick. I've been really surprised with how well our softball girls have adjusted to golf. I wish some of them would have come out earlier."

The county picture, according to Coach Ellis, leans toward Springstead and Nature Coast.

"Nature Coast has players back and Springstead has two tremendous players back," explained Ellis. "My kids play multiple sports. Springstead players just play golf, so that gives them an edge over us."

Regarding 2A-7, "I like the new district especially with Berube gone," said Ellis. "I understand that Fivay has a couple of legit girls, so they'll be tough."

On where a rebuilding HHS team will finish, "That's too early to tell," responded Coach Ellis. "All I want us to do is be able to compete. Last year with Italy she gave us the ability to keep it close. She helped us make it to regions as a team."

On who'll replace Berube as the County's Player of the Year, "I couldn't tell you," said Ellis. "All of the county's top players have graduated; it could be anybody this year. Once a few tri-matches are finished we'll have a better look."

???Across the past three seasons under Vicki Weaver, Central High went from 3-8-1 in 2010 to 4-5 in 2011 to 2-6-1 last fall.

The Lady Bears placed fifth in the county last year, and placed 11th out of 11 teams in 2A-5.

Of CHS' five players from 2012, none have returned, including three-time All-County performer Stephanie Rodney.

Complicating matters: Coach Weaver did not return opening the door for veteran Central educator Lisa Hallal.

Hallal, a 1977 Hernando High graduate, is an ESE instructor at CHS.

CHS' current roster features four first-year players: sophomores Gina Gonzalez and Ashley Lawrence, and juniors Shannon Scroggins and Casidy Reidenbach.

On literally starting from square one, "We had to borrow and beg for clubs for these kids," explained Coach Hallal. "And we're fortunate Hernando Oaks has been gracious enough to give us a home course to play on.

"I'm fortunate that a friend of mine (Paradis) has been able to help me set things up.

"None of these girls has ever held a club," noted Hallal. "They're all starting with a blank slate. So far, they're enjoying their time out here. I'd like to see them all learn the game and hopefully come back next year."

In 2012, third-year Weeki Wachee finished 0-9. The Lady Hornets placed fourth in the five-team county meet and sixth out of six teams in the 1A-8 Tourney.

Of last fall's seven players, two are back - senior Rayanna Riecss (71.6) and junior Lauren Brigham (63.8).

Second-year mentor Linda Rogers has four newcomers including: seniors Cloey Cremeans and Holly Brumfiel, sophomore Robin Riecss and freshman Niki Arcebuette.

On her team's outlook, "We are looking forward to a season of growth, learning and fun," explained Coach Rogers.

2012 Final Hernando County Girls Golf Honor Roll

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

TOP 10


1. Berube, Megan SPG 12 12 39.3

2. Rodney, Stephanie CEN 12 14 40.4

3. Elliott, Kae NCT 12 12 43.6

4. Urso, Eugenia HER 11 11 45.3

5. Betters, Emma SPG 12 12 48.6

6. Van Meter, Kylie SPG 11 11 48.9

7. Schau, Kiki SPG 11 12 51.1

8. Moore, Vanessa WW 12 12 55.7

9. Pickersgill, Maddy NCT 09 12 57.4

10. Moore, Lauren HER 09 11 59.4

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