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August 3, 2013

GIRLS GOLF SEASON PREVIEW: Highlanders focused on reaching state finals

Floyd Central returns top five players from last year’s squad

LONG POND, Pa. — Highlanders focused on reaching state finals

Floyd Central returns top five players from last year’s squad

BY KEVIN HARRIS

kevin.harris@newsandtribune.com

FLOYDS KNOBS — The Floyd Central girls’ golf team has a simple objective this season — qualify for the IHSAA State Finals.

With all five players in their starting lineup back, the Highlanders think this is the year they will return to state as a team for the first time since 2007.

“I think we’ll be greatly disappointed if we don’t make it to state,” Floyd Central coach Lenny Hartlage said. “They should be ready.”

Leading the Highlanders’ state finals quest will be last year’s News and Tribune Area Player of the Year Eliza Hudson. The senior dramatically qualified for state as an individual last year when she made a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole of her round at the Evansville Memorial Regional.

In her first state appearance, Hudson finished 47th in the two-round state tournament at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin with a score of 167, 23-over-par.

The Highlanders have two other seniors in Scarlett Hartlage and Ashley Dankovich. Junior Morgan Stanley and sophomore Jessica Ingram are expected to make key contributions to the squad.

Lenny Hartlage also says that sophomore Gretchen Garrett and freshman Sydney LaDuke could see a few opportunities in the starting lineup.

Coach Hartlage says his top five players are all hitting the ball longer entering the season thanks to the offseason tournaments each golfer competed in. One of the reasons for the increase in length is each player teed off from the men’s tees during their respective summer tourneys.

“I think our length will be better. They’re all hitting the ball longer,” Coach Hartlage said. “We’ve got to be hitting drives between 240-260 yards.”

Lenny Hartlage thinks there are two key factors for his squad is to reach the state finals.

First, the Highlanders have got to be efficient in the chipping and putting departments.

“What separates decent teams from bad teams is the short game. That’s going to be the difference,” Coach Hartlage said. “We’ve got to keep working at it. The summer tournaments helped them with that. When they get on a tougher golf course, they won’t be fazed by it.”

Second, the Floyd Central golfers have got to be focused on the task at hand and not look too far ahead.

“We’ve got to take one tournament at a time and one shot at a time,” the elder Hartlage said. “We can’t think that we’re going to win this tournament easily. We’ve got to have our heads screwed on right or we’re going to get our butts beat.”

A difficult schedule should make the Highlanders battle-tested when the postseason arrives. Floyd Central will play in a handful of tough 18-hole tournaments, which include the Seymour Invitational, the Fuzzy Zoeller Invitational, the Jasper Wildcat Invitational and the Center Grove Invitational.

Coach Hartlage expects the Highlanders to be in the running to win the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Shadowood Golf Course in Seymour. He says Madison and Columbus East will be Floyd Central’s toughest competition.

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