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Busy opening week pays of for Lady Cats

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By Greg Woods

sports@hclocal.com

The Henry County Lady Cats started the season with three tournaments in five days.

The Lady Cats followed up their opening tournament in the Lady Rocket Invitational July 28 by returning to Shelbyville July 31 to play in the Lady Titans Invitational at Shelbyville Country Club. On Aug. 1, they traveled to Bowling Green to play in the Greenwood Invitational.

Henry County showed improvement in their second tournament in Shelbyville. They placed fifth as a team and Maddie Hensley shot 79 to finish third individually. It was a four-stroke improvement for Hensley from the first tournament at Weissinger Hills.

Nikki Perkinson also improved by four strokes with a 90 to finish 14th.

Carleigh Peyton shot 114 and Hannah Marowelli improved by two strokes to 127 to round out the scoring for the Lady Cats.

Powerhouse Sacred Heart won the tournament with a 326 and their “B” team finished second with a 358. Shelby County finished third with 363 and Collins finished 11 strokes ahead of the Lady Cats with a 399. Oldham County, Grant County, Anderson County, South Oldham, Assumption, Collins “B” team and North Oldham finished behind the Lady Cats.

Ryan Bender of Sacred Heart shot 77 to win the individual title and her teammate Erin Rowland shot 78 to finish second.

HCHS Coach Barney Sutley was happy with what he saw from his team.

“We got better today in both our play on the course and how we are approaching the game,” Sutley said. “It is great to see the girls having success and seeing the results of being diligent in our work to get better.”

Sutley was especially pleased with Marowelli and Hensley.

“We had moments from every player that really were a testament to what the players are doing individually to get better,” Sutley said. “In our second tournament two moments stood out. 

“First, Hannah Marowelli is really trying to do what I am asking from the players. She hit a shot that gave me cold chills because of how simply great it was.

“Second, Maddie Hensley made the best par of the season and really grew as a player on Monday. I’m so proud of the step forward she took Monday to become a better player.”

Sutley was happy but not satisfied because he knows that the things he is asking of the girls will take a while to learn.

“We still have to get the players to not focus on the score throughout the round,” Sutley said. “It is a big ask and definitely advanced thinking on the golf course. I’m glad we get to play again so soon because I am having a blast watching the girls get more committed to being their best.”

The Lady Cats jumped in cars after the tournament and headed for Bowling Green where they played in the Greenwood Invitational the following day.

The Greenwood Invitational is played at Bowling Green Country Club, which is also the site of the state tournament in October, so it was a chance for the players to see the course that they could be playing on with a good showing at regionals.

The Lady Cats shot their best score yet at arguably the toughest course they’ve seen this year.

Hensley shaved five strokes off her score from the day before with a 74 and finished in a three-way tie for second place. Perkinson shot two strokes better at 88 that placed her in a tie for 21st.

Peyton improved by three strokes to 111 and Marowelli cut her score by 14 strokes to finish at 113.

The Lady Cats’ team score of 386 was 24 strokes better than at Collins and placed them seventh in a strong field of 11 teams.

Greenwood won the tournament with a 329, Jackson County finished second with a score of 346 and McCracken County finished third with a 349.

Sutley was excited to see the vast improvement in such a short time.

“Best team score of the year,” Sutley exclaimed “I was especially proud of how the team played at the end of a tough stretch. We played 54 holes in five days on courses that were progressively more difficult.”

Sutley was especially pleased with Marowelli, who is in only her second year of playing golf.

“Hannah improved her individual result by 14 shots on our hardest course of the season so far,” he said. 

He was also excited about the play of his two veterans, Hensley and Perkinson.

“Maddie had a great outing by managing her emotions in some tough situations and showed some real grit,” Sutley said. “Nikki, who has improved in every event this year, improved once again. She has so much game, she just needs to believe it and then we will see dramatic decreases in the scores she posts.”

Sutley said the next step for the Lady Cats would be improving their short game.

“We have been focusing on our short game in practices,” Sutley said. “More work in this area, specifically with our chipping, will help us not lose unnecessary strokes to par. Our players must be able to play a variety of shots for different situations. That takes physically knowing how to play the shot and more importantly how to choose the right shot for the situation. The intelligence and athleticism of the girls will allow them to meet these challenges.”