The keyword for the 2013-14 Spring Hill College men's and women's golf teams will be "balance." Both teams feature a balance of experienced upperclassmen combined with talented newcomers who will have an immediate impact. The same can also be said of the coaching staff as men's head coach Steve Hodges begins his 18th season at SHC while women's head coach Shane Allen is in just his second season, but is already making an impact on the program.
For the men, five experienced duffers will bring their leadership to the course. Senior Philip Dugan of Lake Forest, Ill., has played in 15 events in his previous three seasons while fellow seniors Spencer Lane of St. Louis, Mo., and Rickie Lee of Bayou LaBatre, Ala., have both seen action in seven events during their careers. Juniors Robert Bo Cox of Gardendale, Ala., and Jordan Portal from Miami, Fla., have been regular starters over the past two seasons with Portal recording an individual championship last season at the Carey Collegiate Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Sophomore Cade Landeche of Luling, La., enjoyed an excellent season as a freshman with the SHC men's golf club, earning a slot on the varsity team this year. Freshman Wesley Hunter from St. Luke's Episcopal School in Mobile has been impressive in the early fall practice rounds and looks to be an immediate scorer for the Badgers. Freshman Grant Luisi of Dallas, Texas, should also see early action in the starting Badger five while freshman Jake Finn of Prattville, Ala., appears to have a bright future on the links at Spring Hill.
On the ladies side, Allen believes his four senior players have the experience and drive for a breakthrough season. Two-time All-SSAC selection Avery Kyle of Plano, Texas, has appeared in all 27 Badger events during her three years on The Hill and has been the top SHC finisher in 26 outings with two individual championships under her belt. Fellow seniors Katie Callahan of Prairie Village, Kan., and Audrey Dombrowski of St. Louis, Mo., have appeared in more than 20 matches each over the past three seasons while Shelley Husband of Pass Christian, Miss., also has been a reliable performer during her career.
Junior Rachell Failla of New Orleans, La., looks to return to the Badger starting five after a strong showing in her sophomore year as classmate Stephanie Lee out of Baker High School in Mobile will continue to be a valuable commodity on the SHC roster.
Sophomore Alexandria Ryals from Gulf Breeze High School in Florida started in seven of nine tournaments as a true freshman for an impressive start to her college career in 2012-13. Freshman Mary-Grace Pollet from Baton Rouge, La., has proven to possess a strong game for a young player and will challenge the returning players for starting time immediately.
Both Hodges and Allen say that the key to this year will be how well the teams can combine the experience and knowledge of their returning veterans with the enthusiasm and talent of the younger players, but with the right chemistry, the 2013-14 season will be a special year.
The Spring Hill men next play on Monday and Tuesday at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) Invitational at Windance Golf Club in Gulfport while the women next play on November 4-5, 2013, at the William Carey University Classic at Canebrake Country Club in Hattiesburg, Miss.