Sports

With a solid mixture of experience and talent, SK golf teams should see some big dividends this year

If South Kitsap boys’ golf coach Sean Duttry has seemed a more little excited as the spring golf season has approached, he’s had good reason.

Anyone in his situation would.

His entire team is returning for yet another year, and it is loaded with talent — enough to make a run at the Narrows League title and beyond.

“The thing with high school golf is that these athletes grow each year,” Duttry said. “And that means they get bigger and stronger and translates into longer off the tee and lower scores. If everyone of them can shave one stroke off their score (from last year), then we’ll be very competitive.”

For starters, the Wolves get their big three back in senior Luke DeVault and juniors Joel Schenfeld and Kenneth Eisenhut. Also back from last year are junior Jonathan Murphy and sophomore Marcus Lacey, giving South a solid — and possibly studly — top five.

DeVault is the lone senior on the team and has the most experience, something he feels will help down the road.

“Every year is pretty good experience when you hit a lot of shots and play in a lot of matches,” DeVault said. “We’ve got a lot of depth this year, and that should get us through a lot of matches.”

As with most members of the team, DeVault plays golf year round and works on a course, McCormick Woods, during the summer.

He said he’s improved over last year, where he stumbled in the district tournament and failed to qualify for state.

“I’ve gotten a little more consistency this year,” he said. “I’m hitting the ball straighter than last year. And my putting is getting a little bit better, so I should have a pretty good short game this year.”

Schenfeld also failed to make it to state last year and had to endure a summer of thinking about the one stroke that cost him that trip. But he said he has learned from last season and is ready to put what he learned into action and have another go at it.

“Obviously, I knew what to work on, what held me back from state last year,” Schenfeld said. “I knew the parts of the game I needed to focus on.”

That would be his short game, he said. Schenfeld has always been long off the tee, but inconsistency around and on the greens has held him back.

But that won’t be the case this year, after a summer’s worth of work.

“I can see the areas that have changed since last year,” Schenfeld said. “The practice has been paying off.”

DeVault, Schenfeld and Eisenhut give South a potent lineup at the top but they all know they can’t relax or rest on their laurels. There’s too much talent just below that will keep the lineup of five moving around all year, Duttry said.

“We’re so deep,” he said. “And that fifth or sixth man, they’re the guys that usually win or lose matches in our league. And that’s the key.”

Duttry said the difference in strokes between two teams’ top players is usually one or two and can be made up down the line by a solid round by a No. 2 or No. 3 player.

But it’s the scores at the bottom that can and usually do make the difference as one team’s No. 5 can be 10 or more strokes better than the opponent.

And that’s where South’s depth, with Lacey and Murphy, should come in handy, as will the play of Ory Packer, Marshall Bell, Jeff Proctor, Haydn Ritter and Jesse DeBock, along with freshmen Mitchell Hansen, Lucas Robinson and Tyler Strafford.

“That’s why we’re good. We’ve got seven or eight guys (that can play),” Duttry said. “They’re all excited about golf, and that will carry them a long way.”

So far, the South Kitsap girls’ tennis team’s loss is the golf team’s gain.

When Stephanie Davison decided not to play tennis her senior year, she set her sights on the Wolves’ golf program, and now gives the South girls a potent one-two punch heading into the 2006 season.

“I don’t want to speak for her or put words in her mouth, but I think she’is enjoying being on a small team for a change,” South coach Tom LaFerriere said. “She is obviously very athletic, and she has focus. But what I like best is she fits in well with everyone. She’s just one of the girls.”

Davison is the two-time defending state singles champion but decided against playing high school tennis this year to concentrate on USTA regional and national play. She also decided to have a little fun and showed up at LaFerriere’s preseason golf meeting.

The coach said he was surprised at first to see her there but once he found out she was serious about playing, he knew his team would see instant improvement.

Besides playing tennis most of the life, Davison has also excelled on the golf course in her off-tennis time. And LaFerriere feels his team can only benefit from her athletic background and sense of wanting to play to win.

“She does know how to win, and she has a really relaxed demeanor on the course,” LaFerriere said. “She hits the ball very well. She has an all-around solid game, but it remains to be seen just how good she can be. But she has definitely played more than anyone else on the team.”

But this team won’t just be about Stephanie the golfer. The Wolves return a solid core that should have them in the thick of the Narrows League race from start to finish.

“I think we’re moving up,” LaFerriere said. “Last year, we were kind of in the lower-middle of the pack. This year, if we play well, we’ll be competitive with people.”

The addition of Davison gives more depth on a team that returns five from last year, including junior Kate Clark.

Clark enters the year as the Wolves’ No. 1 golfer and reinforced that standing by taking medalist honors in South’s season- opening tournament last week.

“Kate is just an absolute positive influence on this team,” LaFerriere said. “I like to say she’s in charge of making everyone feel important and feel like they are a part of the team.”

She’s also a solid golfer and looks to make a run at qualifying for the state tournament this year after falling short last season

The Wolves will also benefit from the return of juniors Arielle Evans, Julie Van Cleef and Amber Brown, as well as senior Melanie McCarthy.

LaFerriere said Evans is a solid No. 3 player this year, while Van Cleef has made great strides in her game after not seeing as much varsity action last year.

Also new this year is junior Kendall Simmons, who is relatively new to the sport. She is picking up a lot of things quickly and getting better with each passing day.

“She has an element of a personal want to be focused and driven,” LaFerriere said. “She’s very driven and already showing that she can apply what she learns very well.”

If all the pieces fall into place, this could be a breakout season for the Wolves.

“We’re going to be better and more competitive,” LaFerriere said. “If they can all step up and score well then we’ll see what happens.”

2006 South Kitsap Boys Golf Schedule

DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME

March 23 Bremerton Gold Mountain 2:45 p.m.

March 30 Central Kitsap Kitsap Country Club 2:45 p.m.

April 11 Shelton Trophy Lake 2:45 p.m.

April 13 Olympic McCormick Woods 2:45 p.m.

April 17 North Kitsap Port Ludlow 2:45 p.m.

April 18 Bellarmine Trophy Lake 2:45 p.m.

April 27 Tim Higgins Invite Kitsap CC 2:45 p.m.

May 2 Port Angeles McCormick Woods 2:45 p.m.

May 4 Gig Harbor McCormick Woods 2:45 p.m.

May 5 League Dual Match Lake Spanaway TBD

May 8 Duke Streeter Invite Peninsula GC 2:45 p.m.

May 10-12 Narrows League/WCD Tournament Lake Spanaway TBD

May 23-24 State Meet Qualchan, Spokane TBD

2006 South Kitsap Girls Golf Schedule

DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME

March 23 Bremerton Gold Mountain 3:15 p.m.

March 30 Central Kitsap Kitsap Country Club 3:15 p.m.

April 12 Bellarmine Trophy Lake 3:15 p.m.

April 13 Olympic Trophy Lake 3:15 p.m.

April 18 North Kitsap Meadowmeer 3:15 p.m.

April 25 Shelton McCormick Woods 3:15 p.m.

April 28 Duke Streeter Invite Peninsula GC 3:15 p.m.

May 2 Port Angeles McCormick Woods 3:15 p.m.

May 4 Gig Harbor Trophy Lake 3:30 p.m.

May 5 League Dual Match Lake Spanaway TBD

May 10-12 Narrows League Tournament Lake Spanaway TBD

May 23-24 State Tournament Hangman Valley, Spokane TBD

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