By Warren Rappleyea
Sayreville War Memorial High School’s girls’ golf team heads to the links this spring with a young group of duffers and a growing roster thanks to interest generated by Erin McQuade winning the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) individual championship last season.
Overall, the Bombers turned in a 5-7 mark a year ago, but coach Rich Bates welcomed 20 golfers at tryouts, and he enters the season with a roster 15 players deep. With the graduation of McQuade and several other key golfers, Sayreville will be without a senior this time around.
“All of the publicity around Erin winning the GMC title really helped attract interest in our program,” Bates said. “We have some very talented girls. They have the potential to be a .500 or better team, but we’re going to have to be patient as they gain experience. It’s also been a tough spring with the weather. I think our girls just need a few more matches and they’ll show what they can do when conditions improve.”
Sayreville has only recently begun practicing regularly, and the coach said his players are slowly getting in the groove.
Victoria Balka is the Bombers’ top player. The junior has been averaging 47-48 strokes in practice rounds, and Bates expects to get into the lower 40s as the season moves along. Balka is strong off the key and her consistent irons play generally puts her in a position to make par.
With an eye to the future, Bates has named hard-working sophomore Kayla McMahon team captain. Although just a second-year player, McMahon has enhanced a natural talent with dedication and is recording rounds in the 50-stroke range.
Since his team has no seniors, Bates will look for Balka and three other juniors — Lily Surgent, Jessica Loglisci and Kayla Gianetto — to provide additional leadership. The lefty-swinging Surgent has improved her short game and enabled her to take advantage of her driving ability. Loglisci, also a left-hander, players her irons well and is good on the green. Gianetto, a newcomer, is a long hitter who is learning the ins and outs of the game.
Sophomores Kayla Anderson and Bella Martucci, two solid fundamental players, are expected to make significant contributions this season.
Other members of the team include sophomores Isabella Corrales, Miriam Kahn, Emma Marottoli and Ameerah Omari. Bates also kept three promising freshmen: Alexa Krosnowski and Kayla and Sam Lavin.
“We’re looking at this as a building phase,” Bates said. “The girls have a lot of potential, but they need to play a little more and gain some confidence. They’re coming along, and we’re going to win several matches.”
Sayreville opened its season with a loss to Hightstown High School, 241-210. Bates’ team was set to meet East Brunswick High School April 10 and will be at Old Bridge High School April 13 before hosting Edison High School at Tamarack Golf Course April 17.