E.A. Sports Today

WP girls top substate

Lady Wildcats bounce back on their back nine to win 4A-5A Girls North Substate at Silver Lakes

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SILVER LAKES – The White Plains girls golf team faced probably its biggest challenge to returning to the state golf championship since it won its first title in 2015 and concern was growing as the round continued through the first nine.

The Lady Wildcats were having a time of it through the Backbreaker nine, but turned it around on the Mindbreaker and won the Class 4A-5A North Substate championship at Silver Lakes.

In what basically amounted to a three-team battle for two qualifying spots, White Plains posted a team score of 256, nine shots better than Randolph, the second-best team in the opening wave of top seeds. Alexandria shot 315 as a team and missed the cut.

The state tournament is next Monday and Tuesday at RTJ-The Shoals. Knowing what he does about the competition elsewhere in the state, White Plains coach Chris Randall said his team would have to have “a heroic effort” to win the championship.

But at least they’re getting the chance to play for it.

The Lady Wildcats counted an 81 from Hanna Dyar, 87 from county champion Lexee Cunningham and 88 from eighth-grader Baylee Webb. They were a combined 25-over-par on their Backbreaker front.

Dyar bounced back from a rough front nine to shoot 35 on the back and post the team’s low score. She was 6-over after four holes and played the rest of the round plus-3. She had two birdies and a bogey on the back.

It reminded her of the round she had in the opening round of the 2016 state tournament at Hampton Cove when she turned in 11-over and played the back in 1-under to salvage at 82.

“I knew if I didn’t pick it up then (it’d be a tough day),” Dyar said. “I just wanted to play for my team. I knew if I didn’t do my part that we wouldn’t be going to state. I didn’t want to let them down. I’m supposed to be the leader so I knew I needed to get it together.”

“Probably the most important for us was Hanna getting back on track,” Randall said. “To shoot 81 after you’re 6-over after four holes took a lot of poise, because a lot of folks would have melted. She’s an old soul, 10th grade. She’s seen it all twice. She gathered herself and gave herself a good little talking to and shot 1-under on the back. Amazing.”

Cunningham was 6-over after five holes with 15 putts and then rediscovered her putting stroke in the middle of the round and banged out seven straight pars. She got back on track to shoot 81, but took a 9 on her final hole.

Webb ramped up her focus on the closing holes and went par-bogey-par finish to get in under her target score at Silver Lakes (90) and beat the No. 3 players on the two teams expected to challenge the Lady Wildcats for the title by 15 and 21 shots.

“I’m tickled to death with the way we performed,” Randall said. “We knew going in that Baylee’s match was going to be the key match and we tell her all the time that ball doesn’t know she’s in eighth grade so she shouldn’t worry about it. It seems like the more pressure you put on Baylee the better she responds.”

Class 1A-3A North Girls

Glencoe met a team tournament goal by posting under 300 and qualified for the state tournament for the first time since its 2015 state championship in Mobile. The Lady Jackets shot 299 to grab the second qualifying spot behind sub-state champion Clements (294).

Lauren Cole, an eighth-grader the last time the Lady Jackets made it to state, second low medalist with a team-best 87. They also counted a 98 from Abby Powell and 114 from second-year player Camryn Blackwell.

“We had a goal and we reached it,” Cole said. “Our goal was to shoot under 300 and we shot one stroke under so we were pretty happy about that.”

“We’ve had some lower scores, but I’m probably more pleased with this round than I am anything we’ve done all year,” Glencoe coach Jason Pierce added. “It’s nice to go back. The state tournament is a special place.”

Mars Hill’s Hannah Pope was medalist with a 76. Pleasant Valley (348) and Weaver (353) missed the cut.

This story will be updated.

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