In program’s 1st WPIAL season, Hempfield girls golf comes out of clubhouse firing

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021 | 4:59 PM


After playing one season as a club team, Hempfield’s girls golfers were primed to begin their first year as a WPIAL member.

The girls are apparently an iron, driver and putter team, too.

Nobody saw this kind of start coming.

The Lady Spartans have embraced the challenge that comes with being a first-year program but have bagged the crawl-before-you-walk concept. And forget the idea of the team having to take its lumps or work through growing pains.

Hempfield is here to play, now.

The team took a 3-0 record (3-0 Section 3-3A) into a soggy week that is seeing matches get ravaged by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Coach Katie Miller Gee, the best female player to come out of Hempfield — and one of the best to play in the WPIAL — sees a group that is more fundamentally sound than raw, one that wants to compete and win now.

“They are very eager to learn and compete,” said Miller Gee, a former three-time PIAA champion who played at North Carolina. “I try to share my experiences, and I tell them about times I have been nervous or needed something to play well.

“I think showing vulnerability has helped them as well.”

Miller Gee, who played on Hempfield’s boys team when she was in high school, is now in her seventh month of pregnancy. She has continued to play amateur golf while she and her husband, Oakmont professional Devin Gee, await the birth of their daughter.

The team is her baby until then.

“We discuss putting, course strategy and mental approach as a group,” said Miller Gee, a WPIAL Hall fof Famer.

Hempfield was shopping around for a home course last month before settling on Greensburg Country Club, where they played last year. They have only played one official match there so far, instead enjoying most of their success on the road.

They defeated Norwin in the opening match, 203-204, at Victory Hills, then posted a fourth-place finish at the six-team Jerry Roman Memorial Chairman’s Cup at Cedarbrook.

Two more wins followed, against Gateway (191-290) at home and against Indiana (184-218) at Indiana Country Club.

Senior Raina Jones carded a season-low 42 against Norwin. Jones, the team’s low scorer through three matches with a 43.7 average, said she is surprised the team has come out of the gates so quickly.

“The girls have really started out strong for never really playing competitively before,” Jones said. “I’m so happy that they’re getting the chance to finally play and actually be a part of the team.”

Hempfield’s other starters are seniors Seneca Wagner and Ave Grew and freshmen Milana Yannascoli and Mayah Iezzi.

“I was confident in the scores everyone was posting preseason, but I never expected us to be playing this well,” Jones said. “Coach Katie has really taken the position seriously and has been helping all of us with our game. For me personally, my putting has improved dramatically since we started practices.”

Hempfield is scheduled to host Franklin Regional on Thursday before visiting Connellsville on Friday at Pleasant Valley Golf Club.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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