Fielding one of the biggest rosters in recent memory, the Lady Wave golf team is inching closer to the ultimate prize.
Returning most of last year’s team that sent two to state, Fallon has more than the required number of golfers to qualify for team points after spending several seasons barely hanging onto four players. Phil Pinder’s group eyes continuous improvement and he hopes that it can pave a clearer path toward reaching state as a team.
“We’re excited about that. It’s the second year in a row that we had at least four players,” Pinder said. “We want to get better every week. If we feel we do that, then with the amount of years we have in playing golf, we hope to have players to state.”
Fallon returns four golfers this season including sophomore state qualifier Carissa Parsons, who put in countless hours on the course during the offseason and summer. For a change, Pinder will not lose any from this group to graduation after this season, giving the ninth-year coach several seasons to help this team progress into one of the better teams in the Division I-A.
“A lot of times, we graduated seniors so this year we bring four players from last year and then the key is Carissa playing in the summer time and that’s huge,” Pinder said about his returning line-up. “Obviously, the goal is to get a team to state. Realistically, that’s probably down the road but you’ve got to start somewhere. We feel we have the players here if they stay together. They can be a team that challenges and goes to state as a team.”
Along with Parsons, juniors Angela Shunney and Tabetha Park and sophomore Sarah Evans return while sophomores Shelby Neidigh and Viviane Ugalde join the team for the first time. Even after one week of practice, Pinder feels good about this year’s team’s mix of experience and willingness to improve every day.
“What’s impressive is their work ethic, attitude and coachable ability,” Pinder said. “These kids are very coachable. Again, the main thing is getting more and more practice, and more and more reps and getting a feel for distance. In terms of where they are at this time of the season, we’re pretty happy actually.”
Although she’s just a sophomore, Parsons took advantage of Fallon’s junior golf program during the summer and competed in several tournaments. Her effort and love for the game has helped her gain experience to guide the Lady Wave this season.
“She played a lot this summer. She won more than one time this summer in junior golf,” Pinder said. “Obviously, she’s put in the most time than anyone in the offseason. She had a good junior golf experience this summer. We hope it continues to take her game to the next level.”
Shunney, Park and Evans continue to improve and will be key to helping Fallon score low as a team and gain more competitive golf experience.
Shunney came out for the first time last year and Pinder said her confidence continues to grow as she tries to find her swing before league play starts Sept. 4.
“We’re hoping to establish her swing and game this year. She’s getting more confidence,” Pinder said. “I see more confidence and she’s starting to strike the ball better. We worked a lot on her swing this first week to establish what she needs to do there.”
Like Parsons, Evans worked during the offseason and Park is hitting the ball well early on.
“She hits the ball well and strikes the ball well,” Pinder said of Park. “It’s one thing to hit the golf ball, but there’s another aspect to score. We hope she gets to next level and becomes one of those golfers to challenge and go to state.”
Pinder’s also excited about his new golfers, who have played softball and can apply the hand-eye coordination element this fall as they learn golf. The door can also swing the other way and make them better on the diamond.
“The good eye-hand coordination definitely helps quite a bit,” said Pinder, who coached the softball team to two state titles. “Even though sometimes we’ve had a Sarah Parsons who’s arguably one of best athletes to come from Fallon in long time, it’s a challenge but they’re such good athletes that it comes quicker for them, which is a plus.”