MOUNT CARMEL — The Mount Carmel girls golf team enters the 2017 season in an unfamiliar position. The Lady Aces have no upperclass leadership.
Two-time state qualifier Mallory Raber graduated last spring and is a freshman golfer at McKendree University this season. MCHS senior Baylee Ray decided not to play golf in 2017.
“I lost two girls (from 2016) who were the top two golfers on the team. Now, we're relying on sophomores and freshmen to lead this team, and that is hard to do,” Mount Carmel head coach Kelsey said. “We really like to have that junior-senior leadership at the start of a new season.”
Although the Lady Aces have four players back in 2017 — just enough to field a competitive team — they have already shown they can win. MCHS bested Hamilton County 403 to 408 to take the title of the season-opening Mount Carmel Invitational on Thursday at Mount Carmel Municipal Golf Course.
Returning for the Lady Aces are sophomores Allyson Armstrong, Neveah Brock and Faith Witsman and freshman Maya Smith.
Armstrong and Smith, who shot 93 and 99, respectively, Thursday, will be battling for Mount Carmel's No. 1 position in 2017. They placed third and fourth, respectivelty, in the Mount Carmel Invitational.
“I've got two girls who are going to be battling for the No. 1 position all year long, and that's Maya Smith and Allyson Armstrong,” Kelsey said. “It's a battle that could go back-and-forth. We're not going to know who will be No. 1 entering any given day.”
Witsman, who has been golfing for a little more than a year, fired a 105 to finish seventh in the tournament. Brock added a 106 to capture eighth place. Each of them are not too far behind Armstrong and Smith.
“I was very pleased that the girls came back with a win,” Kelsey said of the Mount Carmel Invitational. “I have (one) freshman and (three) sophomores, and that’s hard to do, to come out and win a tournament like this on the very first day. I’m sure that will motivate the girls to do well the rest of the season.”
MOUNT CARMEL GIRLS GOLF
HEAD COACH: Karin Kelsey.
EXPERIENCE: Tenth season at Mount Carmel.
COACH'S OVERALL RECORD: 337-84 (.800); four regional championships (2015, 2014, 2013, 2011), one state qualifying team (2015).
ASSISTANT COACH: John White.
2016 RECORD: 30-15.
2016 POSTSEASON: Third at IHSA Class 1A Regional Championships, at Centralia; Twelfth at IHSA Class 1A Sectional Championships, at Salem.
GRADUATED PLAYER: Mallory Raber, who was a two-time state qualifier, is now a freshman golfer at McKendree. She played in the IHSA state tournament as an individual in 2016, and with the Lady Aces, who qualified as a team in 2015.
PLAYERS NOT RETURNING: Baylee Ray, senior.
RETURNING PLAYERS: Amelia Tennes, junior; Allyson Armstrong, sophomore; Nevaeh Brock, sophomore; Faith Witsman, sophomore.
NEW PLAYER: Maya Smith, freshman.
2017 OUTLOOK: Potential Strengths: Consistently close scoring, youth. Potential Weaknesses: Limited experience, lack of uppercase leadership.
2017 SCHEDULE (HOME GAMES IN ALL CAPS): Aug. 10: MOUNT CARMEL INVITATIONAL, first of four teams; Aug. 14: Oblong/Casey-Westfield Invitational, at Robinson, 4 p.m.; Aug. 17: with Gibson Southern at Mount Vernon, Ind., 4:30 p.m.; Aug. 19: Sages State Preview, at Decatur, 12:30 p.m.; Aug. 24: at Harrisburg, 4 p.m.; Aug. 29: at Carmi-White County, 4 p.m.; Aug. 30: at Vincennes Lincoln, 4 p.m.; Aug. 31: MOUNT VERNON, IND., 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 5: WASHINGTON, 4 p.m.; Sept. 6: at Richland County, 3 p.m.; Sept. 9: Big Eight Conference Championship, at Boonville, 12 p.m.; Sept. 11: at Herrin, 4 p.m.; Sept. 18: RICHLAND COUNTY, 4 p.m.; Sept. 20: at Richland County, 4 p.m.; Sept. 25: CARMI-WHITE COUNTY, 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 4: IHSA REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, 9 a.m.; Oct. 10: IHSA Sectional Championship, at TBA, Time TBA; Oct. 13: IHSA State Championship first round, at Decatur, Time TBA; Oct. 14: IHSA State Championship final round, at Decatur, Time TBA.