Plum boys golfers focus on shaving strokes

Friday, September 13, 2019 | 6:52 PM

It’s been a tough season in the win-loss department for the Plum boys golf team, going up against section rivals and perennial powers Fox Chapel, Central Catholic and Franklin Regional. In golf, though, success can be measured in different ways.

One way for Mustangs coach Brian Dunaway to track progress is having his team shave off strokes to improve overall score totals, and they’ve been able to achieve that in the course of the season.

On Tuesday against Fox Chapel at the Pittsburgh Field Club, the Mustangs put together their lowest score of the year, a 232, and have a goal of getting their totals even lower in the final couple of weeks in the season.

“Hopefully we can get into the 220’s by the end of the year,” Dunaway said. “That’s our goal the rest of the way and we’re getting closer.”

Plum has two wins on the year, defeating Gateway and Woodland Hills.

Aside from having four seniors, including the top two players in the lineup, Connor Hutchinson and Daniel Baranowski, the Mustangs have a younger roster. They do not have any juniors, only two sophomores and six freshmen.

The majority of the freshmen have been playing the sport for less than a year, so Dunaway has mixed some of his underclassmen into the starting lineup to get them some experience.

“Some of them just started playing golf over the summer and their scores have started to drop a little bit, because they’re practicing more,” Dunaway said. “Once the season starts, it’s hard to get much practice time, but if we have an off day from a match, we’ll spend it on the range and at the practice greens putting.”

Dunaway pointed to Jacob Pedley as a freshman that has shown a lot of promise. Pedley started playing golf a year ago and is in his first season playing in competitive events. Dunaway said he’s handled playing in matches pretty well.

“He’s been playing better as of late and I think he’ll be a really good player,” Dunaway said. “He’s raw competition-wise, so I want to see him get some more competitive golf under his feet. He’s shot his low round of the year (Tuesday), a 47, and I only see him getting better in the coming years.”

Plum has an individual sectional qualifier on Tuesday at Meadowink Golf Course. The Mustangs played Franklin Regional at Meadowink on Wednesday, which provided a good preview for sectionals.

Baranowski, Hutchison, and fellow senior Dylan Tarquinio play regularly at Meadowink, so Dunaway is hopeful that they can use that to their advantage.

“They play a lot of golf there, so any of those guys have a chance based on basic course knowledge,” Dunaway said. “They have to play some of their best golf of the year to get past it.”

The last Mustangs boys golfer to qualify out of sectionals was Andrew Reynolds in 2014. Kelsey Zik made it out of the girls sectional last year while playing matches for the boys team.

The Mustangs have Woodland Hills, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Penn Hills and Penn-Trafford remaining on the schedule. They’d like to click off a couple more victories as well as gain more experience for the younger players.

“We have some winnable matches left,” Dunaway said. “We’ve lost a couple close ones. The teams that we match up against well, we’ve been close, but unfortunately we’ve been on the wrong end of them.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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