GREENFIELD — Aaron Shewman was looking for a positive response.
Two days after his Mt. Vernon girls golf team let one slip away during a three-way match on its home course at Arrowhead, the second-year head coach outlined a goal.
Against county rival Eastern Hancock on Thursday, his Marauders nearly met it, defeating the visiting Royals 214-239.
“They’re definitely getting better and listening. They all have that fire to improve,” Shewman said. “They are embracing it. They’re settling down. They started out a little shaky (this season), but they’re starting to get a feel for who they can be. I like it.”
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The Marauders opened the season with a tough loss against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Pendleton Heights 213-217 at Fall Creek on Aug. 1.
At an 18-hole tournament in Whiteland this past Saturday, they struggled and posted a team score of 496. On Tuesday, they hosted Lawrence Central and Beech Grove, finishing second with a 218. Beech Grove won, however, with a 210.
“The fire of wanting to do better than they did two nights ago at home pushed them. I gave them a challenge and they about made it there,” Shewman said. “They want to get there.”
The target is sub-200 through nine holes and 50 or below per golfer.
Against the Royals, three Marauders almost hit their targets as Ava Hampton, Lily Hampton and Morgan Hear each shot 53 to share medalist honors.
“It’s a real good achievement for our team. I don’t think it’s ever happened for us before,” remarked Hampton, a junior. “Our entire team takes from every match we do play, and we build from that and it helps us get more prepared.”
Their team tally was its lowest of the season with four golfers turning in scores of 55 or below. Junior No. 4 golfer Savannah McKemie shot a 60, while freshman Hailee Fulton carded a 55 as the Marauders captured their first dual victory of the year.
“Ava was the strong one, and now Lily is starting to feed off of her,” Shewman said. “Of course, I have this freshman who just started playing, too, and she’s getting better and better everyday. I think that’s helping push the (Hampton twins) as well.”
Eastern Hancock was coming off its first win of the season, topping both rival Knightstown and Blue River Valley in a three-way match Wednesday at Royal Hylands.
The Royals fired a 243 to edge past Knightstown and Blue River, which both shot 244. Sophomore Lucy Cochard finished the match with a 56.
On Tuesday, Cochard, the team’s No. 1 golfer, posted a 54 at North Decatur and had a 54 at home against Wapahani on Aug. 3 along with sophomore No. 2 golfer Daly Pelger.
Against Mt. Vernon sophomore Jocelyn Duncan led the group with a 55. Freshman Chloe O’Neal shot a 59. Cochard finished with an 62, and Pelger shot 63. Freshman Isabella Parker added a 63.
“I’m very happy with this group,” Eastern Hancock head coach Joe Patton said. “Our No. 1 and No. 2 didn’t play what they’re capable of tonight, but that just happens. Lucy had a 62, and she’s been shooting 54 or 55.”
Duncan continues to make significant strides through the early parts of the season. During the Royals’ three-way match the day prior, she recorded a 60. At North Decatur, she shot a 57.
“Duncan had a 55 tonight, and I can’t say how proud I am of her,” Patton said. “Her very first varsity match she shot a 67. She just keeps steadily improving, and they all do.”
The timing is ideal, Patton remarked, as both programs continue to build toward the Hancock County Meet at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield on Aug. 29.
The Royals also will compete in the Mid-Eastern Conference Meet on Aug. 26 at Maplewood Golf Course.
“We just need to work on chipping and putting. That cost us some strokes, but they’re going to come along,” Patton said. “It’s just going to take some time. I love these kids. They’re going to be good.”
The Marauders are following a similar path.
“We have all developed a better connection as a team,” Ava Hampton emphasized on the team’s chemistry. “We have a lot of fun out here together.”
Mt. Vernon 214, Eastern Hancock 239
Medalist: Ava Hampton, Lily Hampton, Morgan Hear 53
Eastern Hancock: Lucy Cochard 62, Daly Pelger 63, Chloe O’Neal 59, Jocelyn Duncan 55, Isabella Parker 63.
Mt. Vernon: Ava Hampton 53, Morgan Hear 53, Lily Hampton 53, Savannah McKemie 60, Hailee Fulton 55.