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Senior send-off

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Franklin County senior Abby Orschell watches a shot at Willowbrook Country Club on Tuesday evening. Orschell and the Lady Wildcats posted a 187-214 win over their hosts, raising their 2018 dual record to 8-2.
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Connersville’s Sarah Griffin follows through on a drive at Willowbrook Country Club on Tuesday evening. Griffin and the Lady Spartans entertained Franklin County in their final home meet in 2018. For Griffin, a senior, it was her swan song playing for CHS at the team’s home course. She finished, leading the team with a round of 48.
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Connersville senior Autumn Friend keeps her head down on a chip shot in a dual with Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference foe Franklin County at Willowbrook Country Club on Tuesday. Friend was one of two CHS seniors celebrating senior night at the meet.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

A busy week greeted Connersville High School girls golf, as the team headed to class on Monday morning.

The first of two days of Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference play greeted them on Monday evening, and the Indiana High School Athletic Association sectional meet was awaiting them, Saturday in Richmond.

Sandwiched between those two was an emotional meet with Franklin County on Tuesday night.

The Lady Wildcats wound up winning the dual between the two EIAC squads 187-214, but the night belonged to a pair of Connersville upperclassmen.

Making that meet particularly sentimental was the fact that, for seniors Autumn Friend and Sarah Griffin, it was their final one in CHS uniforms at Willowbrook Country Club.

“This was a really fun year, I learned and improved my game a lot,” Friend said. She participated in golf for two years in middle school, but played on the high school team during her junior and senior years only. “I really enjoyed making friends, not only with my teammates, but with some of the opposing players as well.”

Griffin concurred.

“I will remember all the people that I played with, and my coach,” she said, referring to Chris Bell, who mentored her all the way back to her days on the middle school squad. “Willowbrook will always hold so many memories for me. When I am playing golf, I am happy.”

Both added that there were several people to thank for years of support.

“I want to thank my family, my teammates, my coach, and all the media support I have gotten over the years,” Griffin said.

“My family has always attended my meets, and I really want to thank them for being there and supporting me,” Friend said.

Bell said that he was thrilled to see the maturity, particularly in the classroom, that both of his upperclassmen possess.

“I am going to miss both of these seniors,” he said. “They’ve been a lot of fun to be around, but I am most pleased with what they have accomplished academically. That’s the thing that is going to carry both of them far in life.”

Griffin led the Lady Spartans in their final charge through the first nine holes of the Willowbrook course, turning in a score of 48. She was followed by Alexa Weber, Baylee Schneider and Tyla Patterson, all with scores of 55. Friend was next at 56, and Kelli Caldwell added a 62.

The victorious Wildcats were paced by their No. 1, Maggie Brack, who rounded the nine holes with a score of 44. She was followed by the team’s lone senior Abby Orschell (45), and Gracie Graf (48).

“(Those three) got scores in the 40s, which is something I would have been thrilled about in the past,” Franklin County head coach Marissa Mears said. “But I know the talent that all of my girls have and what they are capable of. I know that all of them are capable of going lower than they are. 

“This is a really busy week, and I think we’re actually struggling with our confidence a little bit right now. This team has a lot of talent, but there’s the matter of getting them to believe that.”

That said, Mears still managed to find cause for a smile.

“We still got the win tonight, and I am always happy about getting wins,” she said.

Following the top three on the FC leaderboard were Camryn Brewer (50), Ashlan Hill (51) and Kelsi Brackney (55).

“It’s really just a matter of building them up, and getting them confidence in their putting and short game,” Mears said, looking ahead. “I know that they have the talent to do it. Right now, I just want them to believe that they can do it.

“We need to have a good practice on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, we might not actually come out on top at conference, but we need to go there and have a good round, which will add a lot to our confidence going into the sectional.

Getting his charges ready to battle the sectional field, one that will be loaded with talent, will require some mental work on their part, Bell said.

“Mentally, the girls need to really work on avoiding those wasted shots,” he said.

The sectional will take place at the Elks Country Club, starting at 9 a.m.