Turlock and Pitman High girls golf are kicking off the fall season in the Central California Athletic League in less than two weeks and there is no bigger excitement for them along with the team down the road—Hilmar High.
“I don’t know what the Modesto school teams or Pitman has, but I am going to put a solid four to help our one and two,” said Turlock head coach Mary Krupka. “So, we are motivated and they are on board and ready to go. They are smart; they can adjust. I already see it. I am happy with what we have. I know I have to work towards building, but these gals are on board and I think we have a chance.”
For Turlock it’s been 14 straight years as league champions. They ended their career in the CCC on top, winning last fall to secure league title No. 14.
And coach Krupka, who always reaches for the top and expects the best from her squad, knows that a CCAL title is possible.
The program itself has been established as one of the best for high school girls golf in the entire Stanislaus District.
She will rely on returners Courtney Malmberg, who is the only senior on the squad, and Annika Lightfoot.
Sophomore Ainsley Coughran was expected to be one of the top two for Krupka, but she suffered a season-ending injury in the offseason.
“Normally, Annika would have been our No. 3 golfer, but with Ainslie having Tommy John surgery on her elbow, Annika is kind of being thrown into the fire,” said Krupka. “The team and I are banking on Annika stepping up and handling this promotion. If she ups her quality practice time, this will be an easy transition for her.”
The defending champs know that the competition will be stiff but the progress should continue as long as the roster remains healthy.
“Our girls are smart and athletic,” said Krupka. “If we don’t take care of business it is because we are progressing and may reap the reward next year.”
Pitman finished in last place in their final year competing in the CCC, with a 0-12 record. It was also the final year for head coach Kris Shaw.
The Pride welcome in head coach George Santos.
“I like golf, I enjoy it, it’s a different game than a lot of these other high school games we have and I think there is a lot of opportunity for growth in girls golf,” said Santos, who is also a third-year full-time teacher. “I think if we get some girls who are serious about it, then it will help them beyond high school.”
The squad returns Isabelle Rodriguez and Collette Sommerville. The team also consists of Cadence Perry, Darian Lewis, Sara Cisneros, Simone Samra, Tiffany Sommerville and Haileigh Faria.
“We are just going to be out there with them at the same time, it’s not, for me, whatever they do has no bearing on our game, we are the only ones who control our game,” he added. “Thing about competing with golf, at least the way I look at it, I am not competing with them, we are competing with ourselves.”
Pitman kicks off the season with a scrimmage against Turlock at the Turlock Golf and Country Club at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 22.
The first match of CCAL is slated for Sept. 6.
While Turlock and Pitman look forward to a new league and new competition, Hilmar High is seeking redemption.
Hilmar finished in the bottom half of the Valley Foothill League (South), but head coach Ty Pettigrew knows that with three key returners, they could very well finish on the opposite end when the fall season comes to a close.
“As always I look to compete in the VFL South and make playoffs as a team. And to continue to improve as a team,” said Pettigrew.
Some of the returning golfers for the Hilmar Yellowjackets include Olivia Machado (junior), Taylor Johnson (senior) and sophomore Avery Oliveira.
Freshman Autumn Pangilinan and junior Rikki Silveira make up the newcomers for the ‘Jackets who finished with a 4-8 league record last season.