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Franklin Regional girls golf looks for rebound year

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Doug Gulasy | Trib Total Media
Franklin Regional's Brenna Scott tees off during the Section 1-AAA qualifier on Sept. 18, 2013, at Vandergrift Golf Club.

Franklin Regional girls golf coach Kane Daignault sees a lot more when he looks at his team this season.

A lot more players, and a lot more potential.

After qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs in 2012, Franklin Regional struggled to a two-win season last year. But with a handful of players returning from last season's team and about a dozen newcomers, Daignault is hoping for more success in 2014.

“Last year's team wasn't very strong, so you anticipate them being better this year,” coach Kane Daignault said. “I anticipate them being better this year. I think the team is going to be better this year.”

Daignault said he was especially excited to see 17 players come out for the team this season after playing last year with fewer than 10.

“I could go back to years where I could combine two teams and not have 17 girls,” he said. “So I'm excited about that.”

Starters Brenna Scott, a senior, and Livia Molinaro, a junior, return for Franklin Regional this season. They were the Panthers' top two scorers a season ago, improving their scoring averages by about five strokes from the 2012 season.

“It was a big learning experience just because we didn't have as many returning players, and we lost a lot of the starting lineup,” Scott said of last season. “I think, especially Livia Molinaro and I because we were in the top five last year, it helped us because we got that experience. Now we can bring it to (this) year, too.”

Seniors Lauren Gillespie and Diane Smith, junior Hannah Strobel, sophomore Mikaela Puhl and freshman Joceyln Behr will also compete for spots in Franklin Regional's starting lineup this season.

“I'm excited because we have so much diversity now,” Scott said. “Before, with a smaller group, you had girls who had special talents. Now, you see different styles of golf coming into play. It's interesting to watch.”

The team also has a handful of freshmen, somewhat of a rarity for Daignault. Last year's team included just one freshman.

“For a girls golf coach, that's exactly what you have to see coming in to be competitive in the following years,” Daignault said. “You need a good group of freshmen coming in that are athletic. A lot of times, they don't have much golf experience, but if they're athletes (and) they've played other sports leading up to this point, normally you can turn them into good players by the time they're juniors and seniors. That's what I anticipate with this group.”

Although Daignault said he expects some inconsistency with this year's team because a lot of the players are still learning the game of golf, he hopes the Panthers can contend for the WPIAL playoffs again. Franklin Regional will compete in Section 3-AAA with Gateway, Indiana, Norwin and Penn-Trafford, with the top two teams qualifying for the playoffs.

“I think we're going to try and win a few more matches than we did last year, just because now we do have that experience,” Scott said. “Besides that, (we want to) get the new girls some experience playing golf.”

Franklin Regional opened the season Monday with a nonsection match at Mt. Lebanon before hosting Fox Chapel on Tuesday, past the deadline for this week's edition. The Panthers will play at Penn-Trafford in their section opener on Thursday afternoon.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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