E.A. Sports Today

Stevens second

Alexandria senior shoots 77, overtakes second in 4A-5A girls; White Plains finishes third in team competition

By East Alabama Sports Today

OPELIKA – Abby Stevens’ sole focus at this year’s AHSAA Golf Championships was to do better than she did the year before.

She blew it away. Way away.

The Alexandria senior posted a 5-over-par 77 on the Grand National Lake Course in her final high school round to finish second in the Class 4A-5A girls tournament (156). She was well behind medalist Sophie Burks of team champion Trinity (71-71—142), but she was one ahead of playing partner Karlee Allen of Northside for runner-up.

“The whole goal was to shoot better than seventh place,” Stevens said. “Last year I got seventh — tied for seventh – and this year it’s second. That’s five spots up and not a lot of the girls graduated. It’s just crazy to think about.

‘I’ve taken a big jump from last year. I didn’t win any tournaments until this year, then I won the county and sub-state and got second in the state, so I’ve taken a jump from last year. But I’ve just put in so much extra work this year and it’s paid off.”

Meanwhile, the White Plains girls finished third in the 4A-5A team race. The Lady Wildcats shot 261 for the second day in a row and were 11 shots behind runner-up UMS-Wright. White Plains coach Chris Randall acknowledged Stevens’ success and was proud of the showing of his young team.

Stevens overcame rough patches at the start of each nine to earn her place as the second-best girls golfer in 4A-5A. She was 3-over trough three holes on the front and then made back-to-back birdies to turn in 2-over. She was 3-over after two holes on the back and then birdied 12.

“The whole time I was just focusing on being one up on every single hole,” she said. “The front nine I was up on her by three, which would tie us. On the next nine I just needed to get one or two more to beat her. That gave me more motivation to play better.”

The White Plains girls, meanwhile, were looking for a third straight state title but with a vastly different team than the one that won the last two. This team has two freshman, a sophomore and a seventh-grader.

The Lady Wildcats counted an 84 by Lexee Cunningham, an 87 by Hanna Dyar and a 90 by seventh-grader Baylie Webb.

“I was really proud of Baylie Webb,” Randall said. “She turned in 49 and then shot 41 on the back. She knew how important her score was; she knew we were counting her. For a seventh grader to know I’ve got to pick it up and then shoot 41 in that kind of pressure, that’s really encouraging for next year.”

And that’s just the beginning.

“This lays the foundation for next year,” Randall said. “Our girls are hungry and excited and ready to go.”

Like Stevens, Oxford’s Kayla Huckeba was playing here as an individual. Huckeba bounced back from her opening-round 90 with an 82 and finished 10th in 6A girls. Her round was highlighted by two birdies on the front nine of the Lake Course (5 and 8).

Team scores
Trinity 251-243—494
UMS-Wright 252-259—511
White Plains 261-261—522
Arab 275-262—537

Individual top 10
Sophie Burks, Trinity 71-71—142
Abby Stevens, Alexandria 79-77—156
Erika Allen, Northside 81-76—157
Karlee Allen, Northside 76-82—158
Lauren Gilchrist, UMS-Wright 84-77—161
Emma Pittman, Trinity 83-78—161
Reagan Malone, Arab 85-81—166
Hanna Dyar, White Plains 82-87—169
Lexee Cunningham, White Plains 86-84—170
Grace Narrell, Arab 86-85—171

Team results
TRINITY (251-243—494): Sophie Burks 71-71—143; Mary Grace Etheredge 97-94—191; Emma Pittman 83-78—161; Tatum Willis 116-124—240.
UMS-WRIGHT (252-259—511): Lauren Gilchrist 84-77—161; Lauren Graham 80-93—173; Maizie Summersell 88-89—177; Brooke Swaim 96-95—201.
WHITE PLAINS (261-261—522): Allison Arenth 98-106—204; Lexee Cunningham 86-84—170; Hanna Dyar 82-87—169; Baylie Webb 93-90—183.
ARAB (275-262—537): Reagan Malone 85-81—166; Grace Narrell 86-85—171; Anna Ray Stidham 153-151—304; Autumn Tidwell 104-96—200.

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