Lemoore strokes by

From left to right: Lemoore coach Kevin Roberts, Maggie Benn, Ashley Alaniz, Jennifer Alaniz, Madelyn Alvarez, Victoria Sheldon, McKenzie Taylor.

The Lemoore girls golf team took first place by one stroke beating out the six other West Yosemite League teams on Thursday. Lemoore finished with a team score of 508.

Photo by Noe Garcia

VISALIA — Just like last week, Lemoore found themselves on the green and eked out a one-stroke victory in Thursday’s West Yosemite League girls golf tournament.

The par-72 Valley Oaks Golf Course was no match for Lemoore as they finished with a team score of 508 and had three girls post sub-100 scores. The Tigers were the only school to have three scores under 100 and the only school to have more than one golfer under the century mark. Redwood and Golden West were the other two schools to have a golfer shoot below 100.

Lemoore senior and No. 1 golfer Maggie Benn was a big part of her team’s win as she shot a 16-over 88 and tied for the second lowest round on the day. Ashley Wainwright from Redwood also shot an 88.

Benn credited her excellent round to having a “short memory” and not overthinking the course.

“Every golfer struggles in every single match they play,” Benn said. “I definitely did have some bad shots. I would say maybe a little bit of consistency, but other than that I think I did well overall.”

To add to her fine round, Benn also sank two, 20-foot putts for birdies on the Valley No. 3 and Lakes No. 1 holes — both par fours.

“I really overanalyzed my putt, made sure I was lining up how I wanted, practiced my stroke and, well, holed it well,” Benn said.

Lemoore head coach Kevin Roberts huddled his girls after the match and, although he said he’ll take the win, there was no real celebration. He understands that his girls didn’t play up to his and their expectations.

“I know my girls can play better and we were a little disappointed in some of the scores today,” Roberts said. “In the end, we played well enough to beat the other teams so it’s nice to come out with a win, but we know we got some work to do to improve.”

The teams showed up bright and early to more than ideal conditions at the course with temperatures in the low 80s and a slight occasional wind. It was an early 11 a.m. start because this week’s WYL tournament consisted of all 18 holes. The 18-hole tournament is played in preparation for the 18-hole playoff qualifier at the end of the year.

Golden West drew the short straw again losing by a painful one stroke and ending with a team score of 509. They also lost to Lemoore last week by a stroke, but the battle was for second, not first like this time.

But the Trailblazers still had a bright spot and that was No. 1 golfer Mya Chao. For the second straight week, Golden West junior Chao shot the lowest round on the day, an 83.

“I was driving pretty good today and short game was pretty good,” Chao said. “I thought it would be more wet because of the rain from last night, but it was pretty nice, the greens were running like normal.”

She also had two birdies — a long one off the fringe and a chip-in. Her downhill chip-in birdie had her change clubs, but it wasn’t an issue for the junior.

“I had to firm it up a bit because it was downhill so I took a small backswing and then hit the hill and rolled down into the hole,” Chao said.

The rest of the teams finished as follows: Redwood in third (538), El Diamante in fourth (584), Hanford in fifth (652), Mount Whitney in sixth (656) and Hanford West in seventh (676).

Hanford head coach Keenan Wyand was pleased with how his team played, especially after losing his No. 1 golfer Jill Shipp to illness throughout the match.

“Overall, it was good because it’s the first time we played 18 holes,” Wyand said. “I know a lot of my girls are upset at their score, but it gives us a good measuring stick.”

Jenna Leavens shot the lowest score for Hanford with a 33-over 105.

The seven teams will visit Valley Oaks again next Thursday for their regularly scheduled nine holes with Mount Whitney as host.

Noe Garcia can be reached at ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com.

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