LONG POND, Pa. —
OTHER AREA TEAMS
The Bulldogs will be vying for their third consecutive sectional championship this season, as they have four of their top five players back.
Junior Heidi Steinert will lead New Albany as she finished second in the individual standings in last year’s New Albany Sectional at Valley View Golf Club in Floyds Knobs.
The three other returning players are senior Haley Roth, junior Franci Burton and sophomore Chloe Watts. But Burton will be out for the first half of the season due to an injury, giving opportunities for New Albany’s younger players to crack the starting lineup.
Two freshmen could see some time in the lineup in Alyssa Kane and Juliet Gahan.
“I have high hopes for this team,” said New Albany coach Rick Belcher, who earned last year’s News and Tribune Area Coach of the Year honor. “We have some challenges to overcome. But if we work hard, we can be very competitive. Franci will likely miss the first half of the season from injury, and finding who will fill the four and five positions on the team will be tough. I’m looking for some players to step up and work hard to earn those spots.”
Like the Highlanders, the Bulldogs have a tough schedule as well.
New Albany, which will have several meetings with Floyd Central, will play in the Fuzzy Zoeller Invite and the Connersville Invitational. Belcher also expects the HHC Tournament to be competitive this season.
Four sophomores return to the Pioneers’ starting lineup this season after they went through some growing pains as freshmen last year.
The sophomore quartet consists of Colleen Geldermann, Brooklin Grantz, Nicole Kruer and Mary Ann Fitzpatrick. Providence coach Michelle Landis also expects contributions from freshman Alexa Wilson.
Landis said the Pioneers improve throughout the course of the season last year. In 2012, their team score at the season-ending New Albany Sectional was 59 strokes lower than their score at their season opener, the Fuzzy Zoeller Invite at Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg.
“We have a young team, but we’re catching up with [their opponents],” Landis said. “We expect to keep improving this year.”