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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lady Owls embark on rebuilding

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Junior Caitlin Crawford hopes to make a mark during her rookie season with the Lady Owls.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
When it comes to team sports, two is an awfully lonely number.

That's how many played golf for the Marshall girls' program last year -- and with only one returning starter, the upcoming season didn't look very promising. Fortunately, with new Lady Owls -- all underclassmen -- there's a chance to build.

"It's a great feeling having five," noted MHS coach John Weaver, entering his 10th season at the helm. "You get to post [team] scores and there's more competition among the five."

Another positive aspect is that the one player back is junior Lindsey Sullivan, who made the all-NCMC team by finishing sixth in the conference meet. Weaver said that was "a great motivator for her."

"She's carried a lot of the responsibility" for improving the team, Weaver declared. "She's taken a leadership role and they're starting to gel as a team."

Sullivan was a rookie a year ago, and as such had to suffer through some growing pains. Still, she shot a nice 108 on the tough Shirkey Golf Course at Richmond in only her second tourney and close the campaign with a 106 at Arthur Hills in Mexico.

"She's getting more consistent with her shot," Weaver said. "When she hits a bad shot, she's learned how to overcome it."

The emphasis for Sullivan this season will be her short game.

"She seems to be hitting her irons more crisply," Weaver explained. "She's seen the importance in chipping."

The newcomers -- juniors Kalie Cowart and Caitlin Crawford and freshmen Sarah Bentley and Margaret Miles -- range in terms of previous experience, but overall are "pretty raw" by Weaver's estimation.

"They seem to be willing to learn," he said. "I'm trying to give them all the information they need. Lindsey's been a big help with that."

Considering the Lady Owls have only been practicing a week, Weaver believes "we'll have to wait and see" how it plays out.

"I've already seen improvement in every one of them," Weaver declared. "They've had a few little successes that keep them motivated."

Under the best-case scenario, Sullivan will be able to take a step forward -- possibly making it out of the district tournament -- and the new players will begin to develop their games.

"Hopefully, they'll gain valuable experience," Weaver said. "I've got to keep recruiting, with the girls showing others that it's a positive, fun experience."

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