High School Sports

GOLF: Mittal leads Athenians to first county title since 2009

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Practice matters.

Just ask Crawfordsville golfer Bailey Mittal, who eagled No. 16 during practice on Tuesday afternoon, only to come back and birdie the Par 5 on her home course Wednesday evening to help lift her to medalist honors and give the Athenians their first county title in girls’ golf since 2009.

Mittal was +8 over par after six holes and trailed Southmont’s Macie Shirk by two strokes before the 16th hole.

“I eagled in practice yesterday so I had that big confidence boost and then 16 is my favorite hole on the course so that was really the turning point,” the Mittal said.

The senior took a two-stroke lead over Shirk after the birdie on No. 16, and finished the round with a bogey on No. 17 and another birdie on No. 18. Mittal hit the last five greens in regulation and birdied both Par-5s. Her 43 was the top score at Crawfordsville Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday for the county meet, while Shirk fired a 47.

“The pivotal hole was No. 16,” Crawfordsville coach Tony Thomas said. “I didn’t think that we were playing that well, but I didn’t think that anybody was really playing that well. Bailey turned it on the last three holes, that’s for sure.”

The Athenians fired a 211, edging Southmont’s 213 and North Montgomery’s 214 for the county championship, something Mittal has been chasing for four seasons.

“It means so much,” she said. “It was my goal this season to win county. I’ve been looking at it since freshman year, and I’m just really happy we could win it as a team and I could win individually.”

Evie Redding shot a 52, while Sadie Walker carded a 57 and Gwyn Redding rounded out the Athenians’ score with a 59.

Taylor Grino followed Shirk for the Mounties with a 50, while Bailey Barker and Stella Snook each had 58s and Hanna Long a 63.

The Mounties’ struggles have been all in the short game.

“Our short game sucks,” Southmont coach Bill Whalen said. “I’m tired of watching four putts and tired of watching three putts. We are seven weeks into the season, we practice every day except for the weekends and a lot of time we have matches. The touch should be there by now. There’s no excuse.”

Ella Stultz and Maggie Yeager led the Chargers each with a 51, while Grace Shrader and Morgan Swick each shot 56, Hannah Littell a 57, Shayna Ratcliff a 60 and Rylie Koopman a 61.

“It was penalty shots,” North Montgomery coach Nick Johnson said. “I told them before they went out that you don’t know what one stroke could win it or one stroke could lose it.”

The Chargers took several penalties throughout the match. “You take those strokes away and we are sitting on the top instead of on the bottom.”

All three teams are a back in action on Saturday at the IHSAA Sectional at Harrison Hills in Attica. With Lebanon and Western Boone the clear favorites, all eyes are on that third and final regional qualifying spot.

“It’s going to be very interesting,” Whalen said. “I think that third spot is going to be between one of these three schools here.”

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