As a starter program, UCHS has focused more on laying a foundation for success than wins. Still, the Lady Jackets have played well.
“I think we had a good first year,” said coach Kim Balkum. “The girls came a long way from the first day of practice - when some couldn't even hit the ball. We all have learned something every match we played.”
Briana Starks has shown the most improvement. Having never played the game before, she scored a 69 in her first match. At her last match, Starks hit a 59.
“That's 10 strokes, which is amazing,” said Balkum. “I wish I could knock 10 strokes off my game.”
None of the girls have an average below 115, but that will improve with time.
The upperstate tournament is the next step for continued improvement.
“I hope they will play well,” she said. “We are still learning every day. The girls are excited to play a different course, but also a little nervous.”
Other schools have been supportive and the group has made many friends.
“All the other coaches that we played were very helpful and patient with our team,” said Balkum.
The first-time coach hopes to start practice earlier next year and looks for more girls on the roster. She said more players will lead to competition for starting spots and an overall better team.
Kristen Spencer is the only senior graduating, so the core of the team should be set for next year.
“I'm going to miss Kristen's leadership,” said Balkum. “Briana is the next veteran in line and is playing really well.”
Balkum bragged on the rest of the team - Madacyn Jett, Taylor Peahuff, Tatiana Ferguson, Emily Kingsmore and Haley Palmer.
“These girls have a special place in my heart,” said Balkum. “We look forward to the next season and the new challenges that arise.”