Sports

South Kitsap golf returns battle-tested squad this time around

Schedule

Date Opponent Location

Thursday Olympia Tumwater Valley

April 15 Shelton McCormick Woods

April 19 Lincoln Allenmore Golf Course

April 22 Central Kitsap McCormick Woods

April 27 Stadium McCormick Woods

May 5 Mount Tahoma McCormick Woods

May 7 Gig Harbor Madrona Links

* Boys matches begin at 2:45 p.m., while the girls start 30 minutes later

Coaches: Sean Duttry (boys), 12th season; Mandy Wood (girls), fourth season.

Key returners: Kayla Cole, sr.; Michael Lacey, sr.; Owen Matheson, soph.; Melissa Pratt, jr.; Zach Prince, jr.; Blake Staudenraus, jr.; Andrea Wessel, sr.; Steven Wood, jr.

Top newcomers: Vince Bachteler, fr.; Kai Desmet, fr.

Key departures: Tyler Carpenter, graduated; Alicia Vertefeuille, graduated; Lindsey Wood, graduated.

Lack of experience has been a frequent discussion point among South Kitsap coaches.

Sean Duttry dealt with that issue — last year.

But after fielding one of the least experienced squads of his tenure in 2009, Duttry returns lost only one senior, Tyler Carpenter, from a year ago.

“We have a lot of experience,” he said. “We’re way better than last year.”

It all begins with senior Michael Lacey, who has secured the No. 1 spot on the team. Lacey has been a three-year varsity mainstay — he also played some in 2007 — and Duttry said he has become more consistent with scores usually in the mid 70s.

“He hopes to make a run at state and he’s got the game to do it,” he said.

In preparation for this season, Lacey decided to forego playing basketball for the Wolves. When his former teammates were practicing during the summer and competing at Gonzaga University’s camp, he was honing his skills on the golf course in hopes of becoming South’s first state golf since Carpenter and Timmy Myers advanced in 2008.

“I practiced every day during the summer — I wanted to get my short game down,” said Lacey, who missed districts last season after undergoing an operation on his right leg. “Making state is my main goal.”

The second spot was open behind Lacey, but Duttry said junior Steven Wood recently emerged.

“Steven Wood had a glitch in his swing and he straightened that out,” said Duttry, adding that the changed likely boosted Wood from No. 6 to the second position. “He was hitting it all over the place.”

Juniors Zach Prince and Blake Staudenraus, who is South’s top boys tennis player, and sophomore Owen Matheson also return.

“They can all compete for that second spot,” Lacey said. “It all depends on how well they can handle the pressure.”

Duttry added that freshmen Vince Bachteler and Kai Desmet should not be overlooked.

”It’s good to have some freshmen playing varsity matches,” he said. “We have something to build on.”

South’s girls team graduated its top two golfers, Alicia Vertefeuille and Lindsey Wood, but junior Melissa Pratt said the Wolves have more depth than she has seen in recent years. She said there are 11 golfers on the team.

“I think this year will be good,” she said. “Our scores have been consistent.”

Senior Kayla Cole is the No. 1 golfer, followed by Pratt. Both have seen their scores improve from last season. Pratt, who said her average Stableford score has improved by about four points to 14 or 15, said she benefits from working with her older sister, Betsy, a 2008 South graduate who now plays at Olympic College, and her father, Tim, an avid golfer.

“Last year I was having trouble with drives,” she said. “This year they’re amazing.”

Pratt said she feels “a little bit of pressure” to perform after moving into the second position, but not to the point where it is too stressful.

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