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CCAL GOLF PREVIEW: Bulldogs seek a return to the top; Pitman still growing
Pitman golf
Pitman head coach George Santos (far left) and assistant Jon Derr talk to the entire Pride squad during practice this week (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

The Central California Athletic League is looking ultra-competitive when it comes to varsity girls golf this fall and with the season just around the corner, Turlock and Pitman High are preparing for a tough year. 

Turlock placed third in the CCAL last year, while Pitman finished in last place after an inexperienced group struggled at times. 

“We took third place in the league, which was great because at the time we were in fourth in league and with a lot of beginners the girls were going for third, so they did it,” said Turlock head coach Mary Krupka. “They beat some of the teams and took care of business and moved up a spot, so I was really happy with that performance.” 

turlock golf
Annika Lightfoot of Turlock High is returning as one of the top golfers on this year’s squad for the Bulldogs (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

“The squad we had last year was different… We had three incoming freshmen, two sophomores, one who had never played golf before and a couple others, we had an inexperienced group,” said Pitman head coach George Santos. 

This year’s Pride roster — comprised of Isabelle Rodriguez, Monet Sayadian, Haileigh Faria, Cadence Perry, Simone Samra, Tiffany Sommerville and Mikaela Garcia — has a little more experience under their belts.

“Hopefully they can be better every day…We get better and start to build the program, that is a win in itself,” said Santos. 

Pitman and Turlock will call the Turlock Golf and Country Club their respective home courses. 

The Pride went 1-9 in the CCAL last year, winning their first match over Modesto. 

“We won a match, our first match, which was one more than they had one the year before, so that was already a win there against Modesto High,” said Santos. “We competed, we were just a few strokes behind Modesto the second time, and especially against Turlock, just a couple strokes behind. We were competitive in a lot of league games, and as the year progressed, we saw the scores drop, which was great. So, this year, we have five girls back and we lost our senior, but we’ve got an incoming freshman who can swing it, and a junior.” 

Turlock closed out last season at 5-5 in CCAL play. Gregori and Enochs finished in first and second, respectively. 

“Gregori and Enochs should be really tough again, the league should be tough but you never know until you play,” said Krupka. “So, we have to get the first spot and try to improve from there. At this time last year, we only had one returner on the lineup and I had people who, some were in the program last year, mostly people who were not in the program, three freshmen out of six, since Ainslie was still hurt till the very end.” 

Ainslie Coughran is back this year and better than ever, along with Annika Lightfoot, who should be the top two golfers for the ‘Dogs this year. 

Other Bulldog golfers include Madi Mendes, Mia Ulrich, Syah Chahal and Lacey Hibdon.

“The only one who didn’t play much in the matches last year was Syah,” said Krupka. “But she has been working on her game and I am excited to see what she has got.” 

Krupka knows a thing or two about success. 

Prior to last season’s finish, the Bulldogs had won 14 consecutive Central California Conference titles. 

 “I always want first, and we have three sets of sisters, I am looking forward to first or second, third place is fine, but that would mean we are in the same place as we were last year,” said Krupka. “I think we are better. We are really focused on certain aspects of our game, short game, putting and chipping. This group seems to be on board, might take us another year to get back on top, but we are going to get there.” 

Pitman will kick off league against Modesto at home at 3 p.m. Sept. 5. 

Turlock will host Gregori to start league at 2 p.m. Sept. 5.