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The Carroll County Lady Panther golf team may be young, but they are determined to improve and are full of potential.
The team returns senior Quincy Hogan, sophomores Ashli Childs and Hannah McMahan and eighth grader Elisha Rabago from last year’s squad and has added three more players. While Sixth grader Ciara Hamilton has played golf over the summer, this is the first time she and eighth graders Jaden Bailey and Taylor Hayden have ever played competitive golf.
However, this does not stop head coach Jay Jones from being optimistic and excited about his team — this season and for the next few years to come.
The Lady Panthers are led by lone senior Hogan. Last year, she was named All-Conference and qualified for All-A State, putting her on the All-A 8th Region team. However, she did not earn an end-of-the-season state ranking because she had not accumulated enough All-State points.
Jones said to earn points, Hogan must compete in tournaments with more than 50 players from multiple regions. As a result, she must travel in order to find tournaments to play in. Jones said Hogan earned a couple points from tournaments at Eagle Creek and Perry Park and is playing very well right now.
“Things are just starting to click for her, so we’re going to try and keep her momentum going because as she goes, we go,” he said. “She’s a senior, and we’re going to give her every opportunity to give her the season she deserves.”
Jones described Hogan as “a coach’s delight” because of her work ethic and the way she leads by example. He said the other players recognize the hard work she puts in to her game and also have begun to play more often outside of practice.
When comparing this year’s first-timers to last year’s beginners—McMahan, Childs and Rabago—Jones said he can see how much they have improved. “They’ve come a long way,” he said.
McMahan has a nice swing, Jones said, and struggles mainly on the putting green. “If she can play well in the right tournament, I think we can achieve some of the goals we’ve set for this season … She’s a fun one to coach.”
Jones said Childs plays a lot of rounds on her own and gets better with the more swings she takes. “She’s a shot-maker. It seems like every hole, she has a really good hit that keeps her numbers manageable.”
To Jones, Rabago is “the x-factor” because she has played the longest of the three second-year players and is the youngest. “She’s strong, hits the ball well off the tee, competitive. She’s probably going to be the key,” he said.
The head coach said he has attempted to schedule more matches with Northern Kentucky teams because the 8th Region tournament will be played at Twin Oaks in Bellevue. He also has moved some of the team’s home matches to Fairway in Owen County because it is the site for the All-A and NCKC tournaments. He also wants to schedule another overnight trip this year to not only gain tournament experience but to build team camaraderie.
This season’s goals for the young Lady Panthers are high: finish in the top three of the All-A and in the top three or four of the NCKC. Jones acknowledged that Owen and Henry have the elite programs in the area. While he said Carroll is not hands down better than everyone else, he is confident in their abilities. “I think if our players shoot the scores they are capable of shooting and Quincy stays low, I think we can have team scores that are competitive.”