Tuesday, 05 November 2019 12:54

Lady Raider Season Recap: 'Everyone improved' in Parsons' second season

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The Lady Raider golf team finished fourth this season in a competitive Sandhills Athletic Conference. The Lady Raider golf team finished fourth this season in a competitive Sandhills Athletic Conference. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — In his two seasons as Richmond Senior High School’s girls’ golf coach, Keith Parsons has watched the storied career of one golfer come to a close and the future of the program continue to get better.

Parsons and the Lady Raiders saw the official end of the 2019 season wrap up during last week’s NCHSAA 4A state championship where senior Hailey Miller competed for the third straight year. However, the team, comprised of six total golfers, saw its season come to a close in the Sandhills Athletic Conference championship on Oct. 14.

The Lady Raiders competed in six regular season matches and ended the year with the SAC championship, finishing in fourth place all seven times. The name of the game for Richmond this season was consistency in the standings, but Parsons also saw growth in each of his players’ individual game. 

“This season I was able to give more specific advice,” Parsons reflected. “I saw what I felt were some areas we could improve and emphasized that in our practices. Mostly, I'm talking about the short game, around the greens. Everyone improved in that area throughout the season, and it's something we'll continue to work on.”

The Lady Raiders were led one last time by Miller, who was a four-year regionals qualifier. Having impressive sophomore seasons were Kenleigh Frye and Kirsten McDonald, while newcomers in senior Lauren Humann and juniors Delaney Driggers and Angeli Yang caught onto the sport quickly. 

Finishing fourth in a very competitive SAC is not something Parsons will harp on, instead he saw it as a growing tool throughout the season and hopes it will carry on into next fall.

“The state champ came from our conference, with Pinecrest winning it all,” he said of the 4A title winner. “And Jack Britt had two players in the state tournament, along with one from Purnell Swett.  

“It's a tough conference, for sure, and we have the capability to be in the mix for third next season,” he added. “Having the opportunity to practice at Foxfire helps us immensely, since it is a difficult course comparable to what we see during the season.”

Richmond’s best outing as a team was on Oct. 7 at Bayonet at Puppy Creek Golf Course in Raeford. The top four golfers that afternoon (Miller, Frye, Driggers and McDonald) posted a nine-hole score of 217 (+73).

Miller held the team’s best round of the season, a 41 (+5) at Bayonet, while Frye posted a career low (50, +14) at Scotch Meadows Country Club a week later. In their seven matches this season, the Lady Raiders averaged a nine-hole team score of 231.2 strokes.

After the opening two matches, the SAC resorted to playing nine-hole matches due to timing issues. The SAC championship, which was played at Pinehurst No. 5, was an 18-hole competition.

“Our match at Hoke County (Bayonet Golf Course) stands out as a great moment,” Parsons noted. “We had our low nine-hole score and seeing everyone react to that was so special. The course was set up for scoring and we took advantage of it. I loved how excited our players were.”

While there were times of highs and lows, like there often is in any round of golf, Parsons saw his team’s short game being the key to its success in staying competitive with third-place Purnell Swett High School.

“I go back to everyone's short game really being important for us,” the head coach explained. “We spent some time at Knollwood driving range in Southern Pines this season, and they have a wonderful practice area. I think it's a credit to all the players that they put the time in to improve. We will continue to do that next year.”

Speaking of next year, the Lady Raiders will be without Miller and Humann, but Parsons expects the others to return. He is also looking to build the program with a few more golfers. It’s tough for Richmond to compete in a conference with schools such as Pinecrest and Jack Britt, and with no course available in Richmond County for the team to utilize, the Lady Raiders have to make the most of their practice time during the season.

“We have everyone other than Hailey and Lauren back next season, so it will be nice to have that experience,” he closed. “And having that consistency only helps, on the course and off. I plan to do more outreach to help spread the game, and I think the other players will do that, too. 

“Obviously, we can't replace Hailey. We will do the best with what we have.”

Parsons, who is also the Raiders’ head golf coach in the spring, will take a break from the golf course and coach Hamlet Middle School’s boys’ basketball team this winter.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 November 2019 12:58

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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