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East girls' golf rebuilding, but Oder feels confident

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2012 Fall Sports Preview

By Mike Farner

      MOUNT WASHINGTON - You can't blame Bullitt East girls' golf coach Andy Oder if he thinks the 2012 season is déjà vu.

     The veteran coach, entering his sixth season at the helm, is pretty much starting from scratch with this year's team. The Lady Chargers have no seniors, and only one junior, this fall and none of the players has been in the program for more than two seasons. Over the last two seasons, the program has lost eight seniors.

     It was much like that when Oder became the head coach. Four years later, his team was finishing second in the 3rd Region Tournament, becoming the first...and only...Bullitt County girls' team to advance to the state tournament.

     Yes, the Lady Chargers are rebuilding in 2012. And yes, the team will be better in 2013. However, Oder isn't ready to toss the baby out with bath water when it comes to this season. True, the program is retooling, but Oder feels there is a better base now than when he started.

     "I think we're ahead of that," the coach said of when he took over the program. "I think we're closer to our second year when we had Katie (xxxx) and Meredith (Oder). I think that is kind of here we are. We are even with that group from the second year."

     There is another bonus for the program from four years ago - Oder knows better what he is doing. He will admit that he was pretty much a parent taking over the program when no one else wanted it. Now, he has become a director for the Kentucky Golf Coaches' Association and knows more about coaching the sport.

     "I'm a little more productive as a coach now than then," he said with a smile. "I know what works now. We do a lot more. We have a full schedule. They will get plenty of experience."

     Besides the nearly new group of players, the next biggest change for the red and gold this season is that the squad has moved back to Glenmary Golf Course in southern Jefferson County from being at Heritage Hill Golf Course the past few seasons.

     It wasn't exactly a move that Oder wanted to make, but when he began to recruit teams for his major 18-hole tournament back in January, the course in Shepherdsville could not guarantee that it would even be in existence in late August. Fortunately, Heritage Hill is still there (where the other five Bullitt County teams all play). Bullitt East will play at Heritage Hill a number of times this season, but will call Glenmary home.

     At Glenmary, the Lady Chargers are the only high school team using the facility. There is no driving range, but the course offers just about all the other features and is actually a few miles closer to the school than Heritage Hill.

     On the team, Bullitt East has nine members. Five of those players were in the program last season, but only one of them played in the regional tournament.

     Heading into this fall, Oder expects the two most experienced players, junior Olivia Pruitt and sophomore Morgan Judd, to compete for the first two spots in matches. The other three players who were in the program last season, sophomores Savannah Morris, Marissa Eschman and Erica Hall will get the first chance at the other match spots.

     While the team might be a year away from competing for a top regional finish, Oder believes that Pruitt and Judd could make a run at an individual qualifying spot.

     "I think both of them could be in contention for a state spot," Oder said. "I think a third spot (among the five individual spots qualifying for state from the regional tourney) would be great and a fourth would be good and a fifth OK."

     Oder is counting on a competitive schedule to improve his players at a quick pace.

     On July 27, the first day of the high school season, the Lady Chargers traveled to Bardstown and competed in the Nelson County Invitational at Woodlawn Springs. The team finished with a 440 to finish 11th out of 13 complete teams.

     The scores used that day included a 103 by Pruitt, 112's by Judd and Morris as well as a 113 by Eschman.

     This past Saturday, the Lady Chargers took part in the Shelby County Invitational at Weissinger Hills Golf Club. The team struggled a little in that match, finishing 13th out of 15 schools with a 460 total. Pruitt had a 102 while Judd finished at 107.

     In both of those early season tournaments, Bullitt East was on the course as Sacred Heart which is setting records for girls' golf. They won the Nelson County event with a 295, which Oder thinks might be the lowest team score in state history. They had a 302 in the Shelby County event.

     Bullitt East has a full schedule of 20 events which includes six invitational tournaments. Included in that invitational run is the team's own Bluegrass Invitational which will be contested on August 25 at Glenmary (there will be a junior-varsity event the day before).

     The Girls' 3rd Region Tournament will be contested on September 24 at Lindsey Golf Course at Fort Knox. Bullitt East will compete over that course on August 18 in the Central Hardin Invitational.