After winning their 11th straight regional championship Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Carterville’s Crab Orchard Golf Course, the Lady Patriots ground out a second place finish Monday at Effingham Country Club in sectional tournament play and won the right to advance to Decatur this Friday and Saturday.
Nashville’s Hornettes, led by senior Shawn Rennegarbe, won the title by a mere five strokes over the Lady Pats. Eldorado was the third team to move on from the Effingham sectional.
To give you an idea how tough the Effingham sectional was, eight of the 12 teams involved shot low enough scores to have advanced from other sectionals, but had the misfortune to be playing at Effingham. Once again, team involvement was the difference maker for Lady Patriots coach Kim Futrell’s troupe.
While Nashville had Rennegarbe leading the way with a 71, which was good for medalist honors, and Eldorado had the Goodley twins with scores of 73 and 80, Massac County countered with an 81 from Paige Ellerbusch, an 83 from Ali Eickholz, an 88 from Addie Gray and a 93 from Brittany Reynolds.
Gray, who has been hampered with a foot injury, may have provided the impetus to get the girls over the hump with her 19-stroke improvement over her regional tournament score.
If not her, Reynolds’ performance on the back nine was a prime candidate. Reynolds recovered from a disastrous front nine to card a valuable 93 when the math was done.
Ellerbusch continued her stellar play on the difficult Effingham track and Eickholz appeared as calm as could be as she maneuvered her way through the oak lined fairways. Ellerbusch’s 81 was good enough for sixth-place overall individually and Eickholz’s 83 placed her ninth overall.
At Crab Orchard, the girls cruised past Eldorado and Herrin and the rest of the field. Ellerbusch fired a sizzling 71 to take second place overall. Eickholz cracked the 80 mark with a fine 79. Reynolds and sophomore Jessica Coakley carded 88 and 95 respectively.
Whatever the outcome of Friday and Saturday’s play, this junior heavy Lady Patriots group has already produced some surprising moments. Entering the 2013 season with the loss of three talented seniors and having only one senior on the roster — Eickholz — to replace them with, Massac’s young ladies have acquitted themselves very well.