Both the Arab boys and girls golf teams have tremendous talent for the 2021 season, but both teams need to improve their depth as they compete against Class 6A teams.
The girls team features returning stars Reagan Malone, a senior who already has signed a scholarship to play college golf next year, and Shea Kelley, and eighth grade phenom who until Thursday had been the team’s low scorer in the first two matches.
“Both are really talented golfers,” said coach Emily Stapler. “Reagan is our leader but Shea has been our low scorer early.”
That changed Thursday at Twin Lakes when the Arab girls defeated Buckhorn for the second time this season, 133-154. Malone shot 37 while Kelley had a 46. The projected No. 3 player, junior Emma Lynch, recorded a 50.
“Shea had an off day,” Stapler said.
Lynch is a veteran and Stapler has high hopes she can be a consistent No. 3 for the team.
“Emma Lynch has gotten a lot better the last few years,” she said. “She can hit the ball really well. She’s just not scoring like she wants to yet, but she’s been working hard.
“We’re going to need her to step up because we’re playing in 6A now.”
Other members of the team are senior Junaleigh Phillips, sophomore Carleigh Ring and eighth graders Julie Stapler and Ella Bradshaw. Stapler and Bradshaw have never played a scored match but they are being given the opportunity to be the team’s No. 4 player.
Girls teams have four players, with the top three scores counting toward the team total.
The Lady Knights won their season opener against Buckhorn 149-165, then the next day, March 5, they defeated Scottsboro at Twin Lakes, 130-146.
The early success has surprised Stapler.
“We started in the middle of February and we’ve practiced or played every day it was warm enough,” she said. “We’re in 6A, and we’re trying to play the teams we’ll be competing against.
The boys’ situation is a little more up in the air. The team’s new coach, Buddy Pell, was expected to be approved Tuesday night as a new assistant football coach at Hartselle. He has been a defensive assistant at Arab for the last three seasons.
Regardless of who the coach is, junior James Ed Johnson will be the team’s clear-cut leader. He shot 36 last Thursday in the Knights’ 182-208 win over Buckhorn. Gary Lane was next best at 43.
Arab also defeated Buckhorn 190-208 in the season opener before losing to Scottsboro, 173-206.
Luke Sanders and Jaxon Borden also are key members of the team.