Young Plum boys golf team to test mettle in new section
With the graduation of six varsity contributors from last year's Plum boys golf team, the most experienced returning players are three females who head coach Brian Dunaway said are not afraid to challenge the boys, both on their team and on opposing squads.
Dunaway said those three — senior Marissa Lynch, junior Shelby Shumaker and sophomore Kelsi Zik — will get their chance to lead a pretty inexperienced team overall.
Shumaker was a consistent starter and contributor all of last season, while Zik, Dunaway said, started every match over the last half of the 2015 campaign.
Dunaway said he looks for Lynch to step up to a larger role. She is the only senior on the team.
“All three girls are good kids,” Dunaway said. “They fit in well with the guys. They have great personalities and get along with everyone. All of the players on the team are that way.”
Dunaway said it's too early to know who will fill the other spots with the level of inexperience.
“There are a lot of opportunities to take a starting spot,” he said.
Seven or eight freshmen, Dunaway said, have figured into the mix over the first series of practices, which started Monday.
“There are a lot of fresh faces to the game,” Dunaway said.
“What they lack in experience, they make up for with enthusiasm and the desire to get better. Hopefully, they can all improve this year to where they can be solid varsity players down the road. It will be a learning experience throughout the season.”
In addition to team matches, Shumaker, Zik and Lynch will be in contention for the one and only available spot to a girls individual qualifier.
While only one of the three can compete in WPIAL individual play on the girls side, Dunaway said he will enter the other two in the Section 4 boys qualifier.
Plum and Pittsburgh Central Catholic shared positions in the same section last year, and both are moving together to a new section to compete with the likes of Franklin Regional, Gateway and Fox Chapel.
“We were in probably the best section in the WPIAL the last couple of seasons,” Dunaway said.
“I think we can be more competitive in the new section, but it still will be a big challenge. There are a lot of great golfers and great teams.”
Plum opens its season with section play next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. against Fox Chapel at Oakmont Country Club.
“It is such a privilege that they allow us to play there a couple of times a year,” Dunaway said.
“Not many people get that chance.”
The Mustangs will golf against Central Catholic next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Edgewood Country Club.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.