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Hilmar golf 3
Hilmar returns the South Valley Foothill League Most Valuable Player, Makena Azevedo for her senior year after leading her team to a second consecutive 12-0 regular season. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Pitman, Turlock and Hilmar High girls are anxious as they await the beginning of a new year for their respective golf teams.

With the recent closing of Stevinson Ranch Golf Course, Pitman and Hilmar were forced to seek a new home course when the announcement was made and the opportunities were limited since all the other schools scattered to other local courses, flooding the already impacted tee time at local spots.

Luckily for the Pride and Yellowjackets, the St. Stanislaus Golf Course was gracious enough to welcome both squads here for their training.

“Everyone is great out here at St. Stanislaus, they have all been great to us and opened our doors knowing our situation,” said Pitman head coach Kris Shaw. “It’s great, very green and it’s conducive for the girls who get a chance to work on their short shots and it’s closer in proximity as well. Big shout out to St. Stanislaus for opening their doors for us.”

“People here are just fantastic,” said Hilmar head coach Ty Pettigrew about St. Stanislaus Golf Course.

Hilmar returns the South Valley Foothill League Most Valuable Player, Makena Azevedo for her senior year after an amazing performance as a junior. Azevedo was the leader for a 'Jackets team that went 12-0 for the second consecutive season in 2014.

Alongside Azevedo, the number two player looks to be junior Abigail Brenda after the 'Jackets lost Kinsey Pettigrew and Gia Barcelos last season.

Coach Pettigrew now boasts a very diverse team. In fact, the next four positions are still up for grabs after the second week of practice said Pettigrew.

“A lot of new kids coming out, two others won't be back so that is sort of how it works at times,” said Pettigrew. “I was pleasantly surprised by the team on the first day of practice because I was not aware of the experience with many new players on board.”

The possibility of clinching a third straight league title won't be easy, but coach Pettigrew knows that with the help of her two stars in Brenda and Azevedo, anything is possible.

“We will see how we do. I think that we will do ok. It will probably be between us and Hughson,” said Pettigrew. “I know they are coming back with many great players and it will be a dogfight.”

Turlock is coming off their 11th straight Central California Conference Championship and head coach Mary Krupka has her team set on getting the 12th, but understands that this might be the most challenging year thus far.

“Now we are kind of rebuilding in a minor way because I need to get my five and six down, but I’ve been spoiled,” said Krupka. “Biggest difference is I don't have as many starters carrying over. You can only pray for that but I have younger kids now as well.”

Krupka boasts Brooke Vierra, Elena Machado, Allie Malmberg and Preethi Singh at the top of this year's roster, with Vierra leading the herd.

“These girls are great golfers,” Krupka said. “And now I am filling the holes with these younger kids and it’s looking good.”

In a tough league there won't be any time to blink, especially with the Pride and last year's CCC MVP Taylor Beckwith returning for her final year at the varsity level.

"We had a great year. Taylor had another great year and we just rode off her success and were able to send three girls to divisionals,” said Shaw of his team's performance last year. “It was great to have them out there and continue to compete in league.”

Alongside Beckwith in the top rankings will be the Pride's Diana Calzada.

“Taylor is striving for another,” Shaw said of Beckwith possibly winning a third straight league MVP. “I know she's moving on to college so she must stay up there. Diana is looking really good during practice and I look forward to seeing her shoot a low round.”

“For me as far as Pitman golf, the biggest goal is moving on in divisionals as a team,” Shaw added. “We have a stiff league and that is our girls’ goals and trying to get as much done as possible, but top two is our main goal.”