CHARLESTON — The Charleston girls golf team has had a fruitful last five seasons. For the last five years, the Lady Trojans qualified for the Class A state tournament each season. Laurel Chappell, who will be a sophomore at SMU, set an IHSA record by winning three individual titles. Charleston won the state title two years ago.
Now the Lady Trojans are in a bit of a rebuild. It's not a full rebuild, though, since there's still some good talent back from last year's team that qualified for state and won a Class A region title. But the team is going to be young.
Back is senior Paige Chappell, who was on the state title team. Sophomore Hannah Harpster was in the top four for the Lady Trojans last year and sophomore Shekinah Moore was one of the team's top six golfers last year.
That's the bulk of experience Charleston has back this year. If the Lady Trojans are going to qualify for state again, they need some of the younger players to step up which includes four freshmen. Senior Sarah Flight also joins the team for the first time.
"I can see us getting out of a regional. I can see Paige and Hannah moving on to state and if we go beyond that, I will be totally happy and surprised. There is a lot of work that has to be done," Charleston coach Deb Landsaw said. "I think we are going to have an exciting season, and I look for these young girls to step up and fill in spots and hopefully they can do it. I like what I've seen so far and they are young and inexperienced, but I am pleased with what they bring."
Chappell is the seasoned veteran on the group since she's been on the varsity roster for the past three seasons.
"Paige, I am looking for leadership and maturity," said Landsaw, who is in her 15th season with the team. "I've been mixing the girls up and have them play together to get that comradery that we've had before. It's worked pretty well. They are all including each other and that's what I am looking for, that team-building concept."
Landsaw expects Harpster to be right with Chappell at the top spot throughout the season. Harpster was in the top-four throughout last season, and with the experience she gained on the course and with Charleston's softball team, Landsaw thinks Harpster can have a bigger sophomore year than as a freshman.
"I am thinking she can do better. She's tougher mentally. She's gone through what we went through last year and she's played through softball games that have had a lot of pressure," Landsaw said. "I think she's mentally prepared and has the focus it takes to do well."
Moore was in the top six last year as a freshman, but Landsaw said Moore needs to lower her scores this year since she's the No. 3 golfer now.
"I need her to step up and I told her that. I need her to step up and start lowering her score a little bit more than she's had in the past," Landsaw said. "She has a good swing and it's going to be chipping and putting and that's what it comes down to. She's determined and as the season goes on and she has more time on the course, she will pick it back up. She has a lot of natural ability and she's strong so she can hit it a long way."
Flight hasn't been on the team the last few years, but Landsaw said Flight does have some good experience golfing.
So do the four freshmen, all of whom could make an impact this season Landsaw feels. The four are Taryn Pearson, Tesa Brown, Stacey Zerbst and Rileigh Babbs.
"They went through some programs at Bent Tree, so they are coming in with some knowledge and (assistant coach) Stan Adkins worked with them this summer," Landsaw said. "They have a little more experience than some freshmen that we've had in the past. They can get the ball in the air, they know some rules and they have a pretty good idea of swing plane."
Charleston's season starts today (Monday) at 4 p.m. when the Lady Trojans host the annual Charleston Nine-Hole Scramble at the Charleston Country Club.
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