Madison's Keara Eder will be the top returning player in the area. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison's Keara Eder will be the top returning player in the area. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
After months of uncertainty and near-inactivity, high school sports are set to resume in the state of Indiana starting next week.

As it does every year, it will be girls golf that lifts the lid on the 2020-2021 season with three of the four local schools beginning play on Monday. Kentucky has postponed the start of its girls and boys golf seasons until Sept. 7.

There are high hopes among all area schools with Madison and Southwestern each chasing sectional championships and Shawe hopeful of fielding a complete team for the first time in four years.

A closer look at each team:

MADISON CUBS

Madison returns four starters from its sectional championship team a year ago, so expectations are high as the Cubs kick off the season.

“This is the biggest team I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching. Many years, I’ve had to scramble for players, so I’m extremely excited to return four starters and six overall,” Madison coach Jake Shockley said. “I also really like the potential of the newcomers.”

Keara Eder, Jenna Imel, Grace Bronkella and Ally Skirvin started nearly every match for Madison a season ago and the group got stronger the more they played.

Eder, who will be a junior, is one of the top players in the state. A two-time sectional champion and state finals qualifier last year, Eder is on the short list of those who could legitimately win the state championship. But Shockley also knows the rest of the group could be special.

“Keara has a chance to make some major noise this year. She has state experience under her belt, and she has a better understanding of what it takes to be an elite golfer,” Shockley said. “I also think Jenna has the opportunity to capitalize on her senior year. She has shown some good scores in practice, and she’s hungry for some individual success, I think. I’m really looking forward to what the two of them put together this season. Grace and Ally, both, have also shown improvement and have the potential to be really good golfers this year and beyond. Grace is hitting the ball farther and Ally’s swing is beautiful. They both will only get better with experience.”

Gibson James and Kauai Schneider also saw action last season and the Cubs welcome Reagan Warren, Gracie Gasaway and Isa James to the team this season.

“The fifth starting spot is kind of wide open at the moment, and I can see any of a number of players filling that position,” Shockley said. “Each player has their own strength to stake their claim for that spot, and I’ve put a lot of thought into who will fill that position. I really like the work the less experienced girls have put in and their potential.”

Madison opens the season on Monday in the Bloomington South Invitational, then travels to Jennings County on Tuesday and plays in the Seymour Invitational on Wednesday. After another road match at New Albany on Saturday, Aug. 8, the Cubs finally make their home debut on Monday, Aug. 10 against Henryville.



SHAWE HILLTOPPERS

Shawe put together a special season in 2017 to win the first girls golf sectional title in school history but has not fielded a complete team since. That changes this year when the Hilltoppers have four players ready to suit for the school.

It will be a young team for Shawe, but one with a lot of talent. Sophomore Bailey Kilgore leads the squad as the veteran after an all-conference freshman campaign with freshmen Gia Craig, Yolett Perez and Kira Wells making up the rest of the team.

“We are excited to have a full team and compete as such for the first time in four years,” Shawe coach David Hertz said. “Bailey Kilgore had a strong finish to her freshman campaign and there’s no reason to think that that won’t carry over to this year. Kira Wells leads a talented group of freshmen anxious to play after their junior high season was canceled in the spring. Kira has the most experience but Gia Craig and Yolett Perez have put in a lot of work to get better. All in all, the team should be fun to watch the next few years.”

Shawe opens up the season at home on Monday when the Hilltoppers host Switzerland County at Sunrise Golf Course. Shawe then returns to action on Friday when it faces Southwestern and Switzerland at Butler Falls Golf Course in Hanover.



SOUTHWESTERN REBELS

Southwestern came oh-so-close to winning its first-ever sectional title last year and despite losses to graduation, the Rebels are hopeful to be in the same spot this season.

Southwestern tied Madison with a 371 last year but lost on a fifth-player tiebreaker by just four strokes. Three of the Rebels’ top six players have since graduated but what is left should be enough to power Southwestern to its fourth-straight Ohio River Valley Conference title and keep it in contention in the sectional.

Seniors Belle Crawford and Elle Foley took turns leading the team last year. Crawford collected a hole-in-one while taking medalist honors in the ORVC meet and finished fifth in the sectional while Foley’s 88 allowed her to place second in the sectional and she led the team at the regional. Addy Leach rounds out Southwestern’s returning players.

Southwestern is the only local school that will not kick off the season on Monday. The Rebels’ season opener is on Friday when they host Shawe and Switzerland County at Butler Falls Golf Course.



SWITZERLAND COUNTY PACERS

Switzerland County finished second in the Ohio River Valley Conference with a young team a year ago and is looking for improvement this season.

The Pacers return three regulars from its squad, Lily Williams, Hailey Hines and Rori Ware, all of whom are sophomores. The school also has several newcomers to help bolster the squad.

Switzerland opens the season on Monday at Sunrise Golf Course in Madison against Shawe. The Pacers then host Jac-Cen-Del on Thursday before squaring off against Shawe and Southwestern at Butler Falls Golf Course on Friday.