Edging out Lawrence County by four strokes, the Tullahoma High School girls’ golf team earned its second-consecutive trip to the state tournament after capturing the Region 4 Championship on Thursday at the Bear Trace at Tims Ford Lake.
On Monday, the Lady Wildcats took second place to the same Lawrence County team at the district tournament which was played at the same location. During that tournament, Tullahoma totaled a score of 171, three strokes behind Lawrence County’s 168.
Three days later, both teams improved on their district scores. Tullahoma was able to cut 12 strokes form its Monday score, combining to score 159 on Thursday during the district tournament. Lawrence County followed in second at 163.
“I am super proud of the girls,” said THS Head Coach Barry Bishop. “They have really buckled down here in the last couple of days. It really wasn’t all that much that they had to change about the way that we were playing, but it was just the fact of coming in here and shooting some good numbers. They all did and I’m really proud of the girls for that.”
Mallory TeVrucht, a THS sophomore, put up the lowest round of the day on the girls side during the 18-hole tournament. TeVrucht scored a 75 during her round to lead the region golfers.
“Mallory was playing with the lead group, which typically are the girls who are going to shoot the best,” Bishop said. “She led that group and shot the lowest round, which was fabulous. I was really proud of her for that. There are a lot of opportunities on this golf course to hit a bad shot or have a bad kick or something like that. She didn’t let that bother her and it was game on for her today.”
Grace Hicks added an 84 for the Lady Wildcats. Ava Catherine Banks shot an 85 as well for Tullahoma but her score did not reflect into the Lady Wildcats’ final tally. However, had it counted, THS would still have been state bound.
At the end of Thursday, Bishop was really happy with his team’s effort. More so than anything, he applauded his team’s effort on maintaining its poise during the tournament.
“There were a couple of times that they had some bad holes today,” Bishop said. “But, they were able to counter that with some really good performances on the other holes with steady play. That was our biggest thing. They were able to stay calm.”
Prior to Thursday’s region tournament, Tullahoma made sure to get in some rounds at The Bear Trace, just to get familiar with the course. The THS teams headed to take part in a pre-district tournament on Sept. 23, before playing the district tournament on Monday. According to Bishop, that familiarity really helped the Lady Wildcats on Thursday.
“All of the experiences that we’ve gathered playing here at this course, last week and this week with the district tournament — especially the high pressure in the district tournament – it kind of got the butterflies out a bit,” Bishop said. “So, this time, especially being the same week as the district tournament, it was just a couple of days so the butterflies could stay away.
“Sometimes, when you have to wait a while, the butterflies have a chance to come back. It seemed like they really responded and they were all talking, saying, ‘It’s time to play.’”
The TSSAA Large Class Girls’ Golf State Championship will take place form Oct. 15-16 at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester. During the season, Tullahoma has played the course a couple of times. Heading into the state tournament, Bishop said his team will definitely be trying to head out to the Manchester course to get in some practice.
“The girls have played a lot of rounds over at WillowBrook. We go and practice there several times throughout the season,” Bishop said. “They all know what the course is about. There’s a very challenging stretch there at WillowBrook, we call it Barren’s Triangle, which are holes 12-17. There’s out of bounds on every hole and there are a lot places to mess up. That’s where our focus will be. If we can limit our big numbers through that stretch, we should be fine.”
On the boys’ side, Tullahoma just missed having another state qualifier. Andrew Cardosi, a junior, was the lone Wildcat who qualified for the region tournament, and put up a 75 in his 18-hole tournament.
Unfortunately, for Cardosi, that score was good for fourth best individual score on the day. The top three individual scorers not a on the first-place team, advance to the state tournament.
District 8 selections
While he didn’t quite make it state, Cardosi did receive an honor on Tuesday as he was selected as the District 8 Boys Co-Player of the Year. In the last year alone, his head coach said that he has improved significantly, while also being a leader for the Wildcats.
“I’m really looking forward to what happens with Andrew in the offseason heading into next year,” Bishop said. “He’s really worked on his game throughout the season. His ball-striking ability has improved every week. His scores have reflected that. I’m really pleased with the way that he’s been playing. He’s been putting in a lot time practicing and it’s really starting to pay off.”
TeVrucht also received a district honor, being selected as the District 8 Girls Co-Player of the Year. As a freshman, last year, TeVrucht was named the district girls player of the year.
“I can’t say enough good things about Mallory,” Bishop said. “Her leadership has been great. She’s the first one to get there and she’s always encouraging people to get out and play and work on their games. That’s what you need in a team environment like this.”
Banks and Hicks also received all-district honors as well. Lastly, Bishop was named the District 8 Coach of the Year.
“For me personally, it’s just a confirmation that we are doing the right thing,” Bishop said. “We are working with the girls and I use a little different tactic in golf versus another sport. It’s so funny, your emotional level in the game golf has to be pretty level, unlike another sport.
“In golf, you’re trying to stay calm all the time. What I do a lot of, is what I call ‘cheerleader mode.’ I say, ‘You had a bad shot, let’s get past that. It’s one shot at a time.’ That’s what I try to emphasize. I don’t want them to worry about next week and who we are playing or anything like that. So we are working on how we are competing today.”
Start time for the state tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. For more information on the TSSAA State Tournament, visit tssaasports.com.