Owls primed to begin season today

Juniors Lainey Jackson, Phoebe Skidmore and Liza Stuckwisch are beginning their third year of varsity golf with the Seymour Owls this fall and coach Jim Hoffman is looking for big things from that trio.

“Those girls have some experience,” he said. “They’ve been through a lot together. They started as freshmen and I’m expecting some really good things from them.

“I’m really excited where we’re at. Liza is coming off a little bit of a (foot) injury and is hitting the ball really well. Phoebe and Lainey hit the ball well.”

Jackson was named the team’s most valuable player last fall while averaging 46 strokes for 9 holes and 97 for 18. Skidmore received the mental attitude award last season and Stuckwisch shared the most improved award.

Jackson said she played in five tournaments this summer, including a two-day event.

“I did pretty well. The last tournament I played in (at Madison), I placed third and shot my personal best (89). My irons are good. My second shots leading up to the green have been pretty good,” she said.

Jackson has made an adjustment on her tee shots by switching up her grip.

“Since I switched my grip my drives have been going a little right, but we’ve fixed it in practices and I’m doing better now.”

Her putting has improved during the offseason as well.

“My putting is a lot better from last season,” she said. “I only do one or two putts and my average has been a lot better.”

She enjoys the challenge of playing the No. 1 position for the Owls.

“I like the competition because there are a bunch of better people, and I like being able to lead the team, too, showing them that the pressure doesn’t matter and you can still play with better competition.

“Practice is probably more important than playing because you can really improve your shots and play better. If you’re playing a lot throughout the week you’re not getting time to practice the skills that you need to.

“I’m interested in seeing where we’re going to stand toward other teams that maybe have older players and players that have been developing skills.”

Jackson isn’t the only one who got some playing in this summer. Skidmore said she played in three tournaments this summer as well.

“My drives were probably the best part of my game,” she said. “I worked a lot this spring just getting more distance and more power on them. They’re a lot more accurate and consistent.”

She also said practice is important. “I’ve been working on getting swings in before we go out and play a round.

“My irons are about the same as with my drives. I worked on them this spring with just getting more consistent. My putting could still use some work, but that will come with the season.”

The Owls shot a 444 in the Bloomington Tournament and a 431 in the Seymour Invite last year and Skidmore said she hopes the team can cut several strokes off those scores.

“I just want to improve from last year. Last year I made a lot of improvement from my freshman year so I’m just trying to keep that going and post a better score at each match.

“I just enjoy being out here with the team. I also like that it is more of an individual sport, so even if your team doesn’t do well you can still advance.”

Hoffman said freshman Katie Cottrill has had some good practices.

“Katie Cottrill, coming in as a freshman, has a really great upside. She hits the ball a long way. She really listens and does what we tell her.”

The other freshman is Emily Windley. She has not played golf in the past “but she is improving,” Hoffman said.

“We’re kind of short-handed. We’d like to see some more participation. Our outlook is we have four solid girls that can all shoot under 100. I expect Lainey and Phoebe to be in the 80s.

“I expect as the season goes along Lainey and Phoebe will hit their stride and be in the low 80s and maybe in the high 70s at some point. They’re hitting the ball really well.

“They are our leaders this year. It’s a short season and we’ve got a lot of work to do in a short period of time. Friday night they were excited to be here and that always makes it fun.”

Scott Jackson is the assistant coach.

The Owls played in a 16-team tournament today at Bloomington South, and will host an invitational Wednesday at Shadowood Golf Course.

“We want to play good competition,” Hoffman said. “Westfield is coming to our invitational and they’re going to be highly ranked. Our girls see what other teams are doing and they pick up things. If you play better competition you’re going to be better.”

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