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This is it.
This is the season the Shelby County girls’ golf team has been building toward.
With five consecutive state finishes of seventh or better and their top four golfers returning from last season, when they finished fifth, the Rockets appear primed for another run at a title.
“We’re in the hunt, that’s for sure,” Shelby County Coach Anna Simpson said.
Whether or not this is the year for the Rockets remains to be seen, but this will be the final year for Simpson, who is beginning her fifth year on the job and said this will be her last at the helm of the program.
A state championship would be quite a send-off.
Shelby County, which opens its season Saturday in its own invitational, will be led by senior Jordan Webb and junior Madison Thomas. Webb has earned all-state honors each of the past two years, and Thomas garnered them last fall.
Both had top-15 finishes -- Thomas tied for 10th,and Webb placed 13th – at State, and both are coming off strong summers.
Webb has spent most of this week playing in the 38thJunior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club at Potomac Falls, Va. She enters today’s final round tied for 35th.
Thomas, meanwhile, won the Kentucky Junior Golf Foundation’s Trusted Choice Big I State Tournament and tied for 29th at the Kentucky Women’s Open.
Also returning for the Rockets are freshman Lilly Young and sophomore Tiffany Grasch, the team’s Nos. 3 and 4 players, respectively, last season.
“Madison and Jordan will be battling it out for one and two all year, and Lilly and Tiffany will be battling it out for three and four,” Simpson said. “They’ll push each other to be better, and hopefully that pays off in the end.”
Who will replace graduate Jamie Bradley as Shelby’s fifth player?
Freshman Jennifer Fuqua appears to be a prime candidate. She saw some varsity action last season but could have a larger role this time around.
“Jennifer Fuqua has improved tremendously over the summer,” Simpson said.
Sophomore Katie Butler and freshman Jenna Lewis could play there, too.
“We’re deeper this year than we’ve ever been,” Simpson said.
Others returning from last season include sophomore Maddie Hyman and seventh-graders Abby and Sydney Ellis.
Newcomers include sophomore Hannah Milburn, seventh-grader Kendall Mills and fourth-grader Ella Hoehner.
“We’ve got some young ones, but if they stay with it, they’ll continue to help the program in the future,” said Simpson, who will be assisted this season by recent University of Louisville graduate and former SCHS standout Candice Wiley.
Shelby County’s biggest competition at both region and state will be Sacred Heart. The Valkyries, the two-time defending state champs, beat the Rockets by 23 shots at region and 51 shots at state last year.
Shelby County will find out how it stacks up against Sacred Heart on Saturday in its invitational at Weissinger Hills Golf Course (play is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.).
“I’m looking forward to it, and I know the girls are as well,” Simpson said.
Rockets at a glance
Last season:Shelby County finished fifth in the State.
Returning players:Jordan Webb, Madison Thomas, Tiffany Grasch, Katie Butler, Maddie Hyman, Lilly Young, Jennifer Fuqua, Abby Ellis, Sydney Ellis.
Saturday – LADY ROCKETS CLASSIC; Monday – at Henry County Lady Cat Invitational; 10 – at Pulaski County Invitational; 13 – at Scott County; 17 – at Anderson County Invitational; 19 – BULLITT EAST; 24 – at Bullitt East Invitational; 26 – COLLINS; 29 – HENRY COUNTY; 31 – at Gene Hilen Memorial Tournament.
5 – NELSON COUNTY; 7 – at WGBIT; 12 – SCOTT COUNTY; 14 – at Boyle County Invitational; 16 – FRANKLIN COUNTY/WESTERN HILLS; 21 – at Henry Clay Invitational; 23 – COLLINS; 25 – at Henry County; 28 – at West Jessamine Invitational.