By Warren Rappleyea
With a revamped lineup and only two starters back from a team that won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Tournament of Champions (TOC), Red Bank Catholic (RBC) High School girls’ golf coach Bill Kusch was not sure what to expect from his team this spring.
The Caseys reeled off a perfect 12-0 regular-season mark in what was supposed to have been a quasi-rebuilding season and easily won the Shore Conference A North Division. RBC dominated most of its matches, with the only close call coming May 3 against Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in a non-division match, but the Caseys prevailed, 204-207.
“Given that we lost three starters from a state championship team, I’m very happy with what the girls accomplished,” Kusch said. “There’s some very tough competition in this division, with teams like Colts Neck, Marlboro and Wall Township. I’m proud of our girls.”
Red Bank Catholic was scheduled to tee off in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Section II tournament at Bey-Lea Golf Course in Toms River May 15. The Caseys won the sectional a year ago, but Kusch noted the competition is especially strong this time around with teams like West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, Toms River High School North, Holmdel High School, Rumson-Fair Haven and Marlboro High School all competing.
“Our goal for the state is to just play as well as we can,” Kusch said. “It’s a tough field, and our girls needs to focus on playing their game, and we’ll see where we end up.”
Amanda Hart averaged 41 shots over nine holes to lead the Caseys. Her season-best 38 came in a 188-209 win in the regular-season finale against Wall High School. The junior, who relies on a strong short game, also placed third overall in the Shore Conference Tournament. She has also qualified for the individual portion of the TOC.
Fellow junior Eva Babsen’s powerful tee shots and long game generally put her in position to par. She averaged 44 strokes and finished fifth in the Shore Conference Tournament. Consistency is Babsen’s forte, and her season-best was a 42, which also came against Wall.
“I knew we would have a solid one and two,” Kusch said. “After that, I knew that we would need some of our other players to step. They did.”
One of those players is Tara Hausen, who made big strides in her game. Another junior, Hausen worked tirelessly in the offseason, particularly on her irons, and ended up with a 53-stroke average.
Two more juniors played key roles as well. Erin Wright and Catherine Coffenberg averaged 58 and 59 strokes, respectively, and senior Sophia Marquez also averaged 59 strokes. Kusch rotated through the fourth and fifth spots in the lineup throughout the season. Freshman Gabrielle Marquez also saw some varsity time, averaging 60 strokes.
“I think our girls all see now that if they continue to put in the work, they will lower their scores by a few strokes, and that should make us an even better team in the future,” the coach said.