Like the other two area girls golf teams, the St. Anthony Lady Bulldogs are going through a youth movement of their own this season.
St. Anthony’s roster has no seniors on it and just three upperclassmen as the Bulldogs start their season today at the Charleston Invitational.
It’s the perfect starting point for the Bulldogs, as the team will be split up in to two-person teams and they will play a best-ball format.
“That’s a good tournament to start out with,” said head coach Ben Scherzer, who steps back in for Brad Rohfling after he coached the 2012 season. “They get to golf with somebody else. It kind of gets the jitters out of the way a little bit.”
St. Anthony lost Miranda Rohlfing and Emmie Schultz from last year, who were routinely among their top scorers. Rohlfing finished second at sectionals and advanced to state, where she finished tied for 16th among individuals.
Schultz was one stroke away from advancing with Rohlfing, but even so, the young guns will have to step up and fill the void.
Mariah and Madison Bushue are two of the three juniors, along with Kelsea Dust, and Scherzer is counting on the Bushues to anchor the scoring rotation.
“Both of the Bushue girls will be our leaders, for sure,” Scherzer said. “You can see the girls have been practicting.”
Scherzer is expecting big things out of the Bulldogs’ youngest player, freshman Abby Schmidt, to also help round things out for the youthful Bulldogs.
Schmidt comes to the team with plenty of practice and resources, however, as her parents own Fore-Way Golf Course out by Lake Sara. Her game is what Scherzer would expect out of someone who can golf frequently.
“Consistency, she’s very consistent. She hits the ball, she’s got good distance on her drives,” he sad. “She’ll step in and make an impact right off the bat.”
Sophomore Kyla Burton also regularly scored for the Bulldogs, but Scherzer said it will be up to her and fellow sophomores Abby Brown, Abby Ellis and Maddie Schuette to force their way into the rotation and help the Bulldogs finish out their scorers.
Scherzer said he isn’t worried about the talent and potential levels, but getting used to the level of golf St. Anthony competes at could be difficult for his young team.
“A lot of these girls haven’t played in big matches, some of these tournaments and invitationals,” he said. “Our tournaments are all big, Kankakee especially.”
When he returned to the team this year, Scherzer knew what the expectations were for his team, but didn’t expect to see the level of work ethic he saw out of the gate.
“The expectations are always high with St. Anthony golf, boys or girls, but I didn’t know I was going to see how much they’ve practicing,” he said. “They have so much potential to improve as long as we keep working. Our strength is our work ethic.”
They open the season today at 4 p.m. in the Charleston Invitational.