By Warren Rappleyea
Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School’s girls’ golf team entered the season with several new faces in the lineup from the group that won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Tournament of Champions last spring.
The Caseys roared through an undefeated campaign and went on to win the Monmouth County and Shore Conference tournaments, as well as the NJSIAA South Jersey championship. However, due to graduations, just two regular starters — juniors Amanda Hart and Eva Babsen — are back.
Hart averaged about 41 strokes last season — six strokes better than in 2015. Although she has only had limited time on the course this spring — Hart is a member of the Caseys’ girls’ basketball team that went to the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions — coach Bill Kusch is happy with what he’s seen.
“Amanda’s definitely put some more length on her drives,” Kusch said. “She has a good short game and she’s been working on that, too. She’s just a good all-around player.”
Babsen averaged 48 strokes a year ago and is around the 43-stroke mark through several practice rounds and RBC’s season-opening win over Colts Neck High School. Her solid short game helped her to an 11th-place finish in the 2016 Shore Conference Tournament. Kusch said that Babsen is also driving the ball longer to put herself in better position to make par.
Juniors Tara Housen and Erin Wright are penciled in for the third and fourth spots in the lineup. Both girls saw some playing time last season. Housen has improved her iron game and her drives, while Wright, who has a good short game, is working on her irons.
Senior Sophia Marquez and junior Catherine Coffenberg will likely alternate in the fifth spot, at least in the early going. Marquez excels in mid-iron play and has upgraded her driving ability, while accuracy is the key to Coffenberg’s game.
“All four of them are good players,” Kusch said. “Like everyone else, they’ve been hampered by the weather. We’ve really not been out all that much. They just need to gain a little confidence and trust their shots. As they play more and gain varsity experience, the better they’re going to get.”
This season, RBC will compete in the Shore Conference’s Class A North Division, which also includes Wall High School, Colts Neck, Freehold High School, Neptune High School and Marlboro High School. The Caseys will not compete as a team in the Monmouth and Shore tournaments, as several players are unavailable on the tournament dates.
“We’re going to focus on our division and the state tournament,” Kusch said. “I think we’ll be competitive in the division and by the time the state tournament comes around, our team should be in good shape. I know what these girls are capable of doing. The key will be getting them to believe it themselves. I think we’re going to surprise some people.”