GOLF PREVIEW: Port Charlotte boys, Lemon Bay girls lead area

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

THE GIRLS

All four area teams had at least one golfer qualify for the postseason a year ago, and with most of the rosters returning for 2016, all four expect a repeat this season.

Lemon Bay is the only defending district champion, winners of District 19-2A, and the Manta Rays look to return to the regional tournament again in 2015 after finishing fourth a year ago. Head coach Darrell Roach, who returns for his 22nd season, hopes his girls can repeat their success from last season, but the Manta Rays could have a tough road back. Lemon Bay’s No. 1 golfer Kayla Faircloth, a senior, is out indefinitely after recently injuring herself in a car accident.

Port Charlotte finished behind Lemon Bay at the District 19-2A tournament but struggled at the regional tournament. The Pirates only finished around .500 for the year but should improve this season with most of the team returning, meaning a trip back to regionals could be likely.

Charlotte also was runner-up in District 15-3A behind Gulf Coast, which is a five-time defending district champion. The Tarpons are hoping this is the year they finally get past loaded Gulf Coast but finishing second in the district again may be more realistic. Junior Laren Fender and sophomore Becky Davis will lead the Tarpons on the course, a duo that head coach Josh Hoffart says is like having two No. 1s on the same team.

Meadow Southworth is the star of the North Port team and should return to the regional tournament this year as a sophomore after being the only Bobcat to qualify for postseason play in 2015. Southworth’s steady game on the course also makes her a candidate to make it to the state tournament but another name to keep an eye on is junior Maggie Brown, who worked with a lot of professionals in the offseason in addition to playing on the Junior Tour in Sarasota. Depending on how seniors Vanessa Morgan and Skylar Poitras score with Southworth and Brown, North Port could make a run to the regional tournament as a team in the tough District 14-3A.

Charlotte
Coach: Josh Hoffart, 4th season
District 15-3A: Fort Myers, Golf Coast, Riverdale and South Fort Myers.
Last year: Finished second in the district tournament, finished fifth at regional tournament.
Top returners: Laren Fender (Jr.), Becky Davis (So.), Marissa Nash (Sr.).
Promising newcomers: Delaney McBee (Fr.) and Madison Wiley (Fr.).
Team strength: Charlotte’s team has great chemistry despite golf being an individual sport. Hoffart prides himself in keeping the girls tight knit and making sure they support one another on the course.

Lemon Bay
Coach: Darrell Roach, 22nd season
District 19-2A: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Port Charlotte, Sarasota Military Academy and Southeast.
Last year: Won district tournament, finished fourth at regional tournament.
Top returners: Kayla Faircloth (Sr.), Hyasha Crumpton (Jr.).
Promising newcomers: Christian Chandler (Fr.).
Team strength: Lemon Bay’s strength lies in its depth and experience. The team is 10 players deep and only lost one senior from the 2015 squad. Sophomore Alaina Schofield is slotted at No. 4 behind Faircloth, Crumpton and Chandler with junior Sarah Bedford rounding out the top five. Faircloth’s injury has currently moved everybody up a spot, with senior Alyssa Smith going from sixth to fifth.

North Port
Coach: Mike Endee, 2nd season
District 14-3A: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto, Riverview, Sarasota and Venice.
Last year: Meadow Southworth was the only Bobcat to qualify for the regional tournament in 2015.
Top returners: Meadow Southworth (So.)
Promising newcomers: N/A
Team strength: Southworth’s ability to par most courses is the team’s biggest strength. Endee believes his team’s strengths will develop throughout the year and hopes to get his girls’ scores down in the 40s for nine holes to make a run through the district tournament and beyond.

Port Charlotte
Coach: Katie Root, 8th season
District 19-2A: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Lemon Bay, Sarasota Military Academy and Southeast.
Last year: Finished second at district tournament, qualified for regional tournaments.
Top returners: Hannah Madison (Sr.), Hannah Lindsay (Jr.), Shaelyn Taylor (sophomore) and Adrianna Suarez (Sr.).
Promising newcomers: Seaaira Yiengst (So.), Kaitlin Kelly (Jr.) and Laisha Saba (Jr.).
Team strength: Putting is Port Charlotte’s strength, with most of the lineup shooting around 50. The Pirates have worked a lot on chipping and putting in the offseason. Then there’s the mental aspect of the game, which Root says is also key for her girls. She says she has a smart group that’s coachable, pays attention and picks things up quickly.

THE BOYS

Three of the four teams advanced to the regional tournament or beyond last season and they all expect to return again in 2016.
Port Charlotte, Lemon Bay and Charlotte all got a taste of postseason action in 2015, highlighted by a trip to the state tournament for the Pirates.

Port Charlotte, winners of back-to-back district titles, is hungry for a three-peat but even hungrier for a return to the state tournament, where it finished 13th a year ago. Despite the losses of Zac Specht and Jeovani Veloz, the Pirates are loaded with depth this season, which includes experience in seniors Jacob Goldman and Logan Sorah, juniors David Derocher and Zach Price and sophomore Anthony Hodges. Head coach Rodney Taylor says any of those golfers can play anywhere in his lineup on any given day.

Lemon Bay finished second behind Port Charlotte in District 19-2A in 2015 but still qualified for the regional tournament. The Manta Rays just missed on qualifying for the state tournament, finishing fifth at regionals, but hope to remedy that this season with experience, especially with senior Jacob Cooper’s ability to shoot in the mid-30s. Head coach Chuck Beahrs says Cooper, along with seniors Sean Hinkle and Chace Neer, have made it their goal to qualify for the state tournament in their final season. Lemon Bay hasn’t been to the top tournament since 2013 and only Neer was on the team then as a freshman.

Charlotte also finished second in its district a year ago and managed a fifth place finish at the regional tournament thanks to stellar play by Jimmy Laurin, who has since graduated. But that hasn’t lowered expectations for the Tarpons, who will now be led by senior Jake Haas, who put in a lot of time at junior golf events over the summer.

North Port missed out on the postseason in 2015 but that could change this season, at least at the individual level. While it could be difficult for the Bobcats to qualify as a team for regionals in the tough District 14-3A, head coach Steve Posolovich believes junior Zack Kubik has a very good chance to make it. Kubik just missed qualifying by a stroke last season and has gotten high praise from his coach, who calls Kubik “the most consistent golfer he has ever had in terms of scoring.”

Charlotte
Coach: Scott Harvey, 16th season
District 15-3A: Fort Myers, Golf Coast, Riverdale and South Fort Myers.
Last year: Finished second at the district tournament, fifth at the regional tournament.
Top returners: Jake Haas (Sr.), Chris Cavic (Sr.), Derek Yandanza (Sr.), Truman Bethel (Sr.), Jacob Smith (So.) and Billy Brumbaugh (So.).
Promising newcomers: Fisher Morris (So.)
Team strength: Haas will lead Charlotte as the team’s No.1 golfer, replacing Jimmy Laurin from a season ago. Haas had a solid junior season and put in a lot of work this summer in a few junior golf events as did Bethel.

Lemon Bay
Coach: Chuck Beahrs, 2nd season
District 19-2A: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Port Charlotte, Sarasota Military Academy and Southeast.
Last year: Finished second at the district tournament, finished fifth at the regional tournament.
Top returners: Jacob Cooper (Sr.), Sean Hinkle (Sr.), Chace Neer (Sr.), Colin Sweeny (Jr.) and Reece Barber (Jr.).
Promising newcomers: Michael Reed (Jr.) and Josh Hutcherson (So.).
Team strength: Lemon Bay’s strength is in its experience. The Manta Rays’ top three golfers are consistent, with Cooper shooting in the mid- to upper-30s over nine holes. Cooper, Hinkie and Neer can all drive the ball between 260-290 yards.

North Port
Coach: Steve Posilovich, 11th season
District 14-3A: Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto, Riverview, Sarasota and Venice.
Last year: Finished in the bottom half of the district.
Top returners: Zack Kubik (Jr.) and Daniel Seibiel (So.).
Promising newcomers: Trevor Baker (So.), Chad Baker (So.), Alvaro Amaya (freshman) and Ethan Mguyen-Do (Fr.).
Team strength: North Port’s strength begins with Kubik, who brings dependability and stability to the golf course as the Bobcats’ No. 1 golfer, averaging a little below a 39 for nine holes last season. Then there is Seibiel, who dropped his scoring average throughout his freshman season and continued to work on his game during the summer. Seibiel could be North Port’s No. 2 or 3.

Port Charlotte
Coach: Rodney Taylor, 4th season
District 19-2A: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Hardee, Lemon Bay, Sarasota Military Academy and Southeast.
Last year: District champions, second place at regional tournament, 13th at state tournament.
Top returners: Jacob Goldman (Sr.), Logan Sorah (Sr.), David Derocher (Jr.), Zach Price (Jr.) and Anthony Hodges (So.).
Promising newcomers: Yui Fujii, Marc Kaneko, Ben Goldman and Dylan Heck.
Team strength: The Pirates have a lot of depth, with six players who can play anywhere in the top six of the lineup.

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