Raiders on board with seniors as support staffSeptember 21, 2017
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
It’s the nickname Southridge senior Morgan Stapleton coined for freshman Baileigh Schneider near midseason after watching her tear through competition like a veteran.
“The nickname is all right with me,” Schneider said with a laugh. “It’s just one of the many fun things we do as a team and it kind of just helps all of us to have a fun time.”
Southridge, Jasper and Heritage Hills’ Vicki Nelson will head to Country Oaks Golf Club in Montgomery for Saturday’s regional as they’ll be pursuing berths to qualify for next week’s state finals in Carmel.
The Raiders had relied on senior Olivia Mundy the past couple seasons as their No. 1 golfer, but with Schneider supplying her team’s low score in all but one match this season (she was also the medalist in eight of those matches), Mundy began to take a bit of a new role.
While some upperclassmen may have gotten down on themselves or pouted about losing the No. 1 position to a rookie, that wasn’t the case for Mundy. In fact, she was quick to point out there were several positives to being repurposed to the No. 2 spot.
“It’s definitely made me a lot less anxious,” Mundy said. “It’s definitely helped to calm my nerves and it’s nice to have someone else on our team that can shoot even lower scores than I had shot in the past.”
Southridge coach Tom Collins wasn’t surprised at all with the fast start Schneider made against varsity competition. He had watched her play in summer tournaments and had a feeling she was, what he called, “the real deal.”
What concerned Collins the most was how Mundy and the other upperclassmen would handle a freshman immediately jumping to the top of the ranks. But the end result has left the Raiders grinning ear to ear.
“I was a little concerned especially with Olivia just because she had been our No. 1 for so long, but she came right up front and said, ‘Baileigh deserves the spot more than I do right now,’” Collins said. “But I knew that Olivia would be right behind her pushing to gain that spot back, and she’s told me herself that when she practices with Baileigh it helps her play better. Having that talented of a golfer come in to your program makes a huge difference because it builds a sense of confidence in all of them.”
Schneider said Mundy has acted as sort of a tutor, especially at the beginning of the season when everything was still relatively new to her and the stress levels were a little too high for her liking.
“Once it got closer to the middle of the season I started to become much more comfortable getting used to playing with my teammates and getting to know them,” Schneider said. “They were really accepting of me and Olivia helps to tell me what I need to do and what I shouldn’t do at certain points. She’s already experienced all of this, so it feels good to have her by my side for every match.”
Added Collins: “Olivia has done a great job of showing Baileigh the ropes and she’s put her under her wing to help guide her throughout the season. I almost look at her like a driver’s ed instructor.”
While Schneider may not need much help when it comes to drives down the fairway, just knowing there’s a support system behind her has made everything feel much more comfortable as the Raiders approach their first regional appearance since 2010.
At the beginning of the season, Collins was worried about a potential disconnect among the team, considering there were a few new faces on a team that was heavy with upperclassmen.
But the reality?
“These girls are closer now than they ever were,” Collins said with a laugh. “When we ride the bus to away matches, you hear these girls talk and carry on with one another, and you’d think that they’ve known each other their entire life. Just how quickly all these girls were able to jell together was the best thing that’s come out of this.”
For Mundy, she hopes Saturday’s 18 holes go a little slower than usual, since she’s not quite ready for this ride to end.
“We’re always laughing and smiling together and each one of us was able to bring a different personality to the team,” Mundy said. “I’m really going to miss these girls when the season ends.”
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