(Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
(Staff photos by Mark Campbell)
Thursday’s match at Sunrise Golf Course proved that there’s no place like home as the Lady Cubs won their golf home opener 208-233 over Jennings County for their first win of the season.

Keara Eder carded a two-over 38 on the front nine at Sunrise for medalist honors and Alivia Brawner and Jenna Imel both shot in the 50s with a 53 and a 55, respectively, while freshman Grace Bronkella carded a 62 to round out the team score.

Ally Skirvin shot a 72 in a non-scoring round.

“We coªº–ntinue to move in the right direction as a team early. Being this young, we are going to hit plenty of peaks and valleys as the year progresses, but hopefully, the scores continue to trend down,” coach Jake Shockley said. “Keara had a little home cooking today on her way to a 38. She had a really solid round with seven pars and two bogeys. She still has room to grow which as a coach is exciting. Her driver has been a little erratic to start the season, and if she starts getting in the fairway with consistency she might be scary.”

While ball-striking probably kept Imel from going even lower much improved putting was at the center of Brawner’s season-low 53 on nine holes.

“Jenna is trending in the right direction, and if she gets herself right, our team scores might drop some more. She has a lot of potential in that tiny frame of hers. When she starts striking the ball like she knows how those fifties can turn to forties in a hurry,” Shockley said. “Alivia was down to a 53 this evening and went from 43 putts in the 18 holer yesterday to 15 putts today. She didn’t have more than two putts on any hole. For a beginning golfer, she has been quite impressive.”

Shockely said Bronkella just needs more time and experience and Skirvin is displaying the kind of work ethic that should make a big impact on her game.

“Grace’s 62 is deceiving because she just needs to learn her club selection and how hard to hit the ball around the green which will come with time and experience. She has a real nice swing with some good tools already,” Shockley said. “Ally continues to battle out there and even practiced a little after the match. I really like that she has no quit in her.”

Jenning County was paced by Ellie Hearne with a 48 while Sophia Curry shot a 53, Emy Ralston a 61 and Abby Rowlett fired a 71.

A day earlier, Madison bounced back from a rough round in its season opener to shave almost 70 strokes as a team and go from dead last at the Bloomington South Invitational to runner-up at Seymour.

The Lady Cubs cut strokes across the board to shoot a 426 that was still well back of host Seynour’s 381 but easily better than the 447 carded by Scottsburg.

Of course, Wednesday’s match was played at the more familiar Shadowood Golf Course against just three teams rather than the deep field of top-ranked squads Madison saw at Bloomington Country Club while shooting a 493 on Monday but that took nothing away from the turnaround for Shockley.

“I think any coach would take a 67-stroke improvement in two days!” Shockley said. “We are extremely young, so we’re going to have our ups and downs and I couldn’t be more proud of the ladies for bouncing back.”

The three players who teed off for Madison in both matches cut an average of 12.3 strokes off their round as Eder led the way with an 82, Imel shot a 116 and Bronkella carded a 114. Madison also saw its first action from Brawner with a 114 and Gibson James with a 139.

“It was nice to have Alivia in the fold today so that obviously was a big reason for the improvement. But I had no idea how she would do. A 114 for your first ever round of competitive golf is a big accomplishment,” Shockley said. “Grace also improved by 16 strokes over Monday and had her first birdie.”

“Jenna took a step in the right direction, today, but she’s still looking for that groove,” Shockely added. “I’m really impressed by her poise even though she isn’t playing to the level at which she wants to play. Gibson is also mostly new to the game, and frankly, we just wanted her to finish out some holes before reaching double par and she did just that.”

While Eder’s 90 on Monday was well off the medalist pace at Bloomington, the 82 she shot Wednesday was just a stroke back from co-medalists Laken Waskom and Bridget Marshall of Seymour.

“Keara is still fine-tuning a little bit,” Shockley said. “Eighty-two on the scorecard isn’t bad, but I know she isn’t satisfied. I know she’s just going to keep working and working.”

The Owls winning score also included a 104 by Lainey Jackson, a 115 by Phoebe Skidmore and a non-scoring 118 by Rylee Knutson.

The Seymour Invitational, normally a multi-team tourney like Bloomington, ended up with just three full teams Wednesday after several of the schools who traditionally join the field opted to start school earlier, leaving their teams unavailable for the 18-hole event.

Madison hosts New Albany at 10 a.m. on Saturday back at Sunrise Golf Course before playing South Dearborn and Austin at South Dearborn County Club Tuesday.