Tuckerton Leader

Pinelands Regional Golf Squad Still Young, Yet With Experience

Spring Sports Preview
Apr 06, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Pinelands junior Connor Carney is among this season’s returning players from last year.

Last season, coach James Becker’s Pinelands Regional co-ed golf team was young and talented. Heading into this spring, his team still remains young and talented, but now add experience to the mix, particularly with the squad’s top four golfers.

“I’m looking forward to competing with them this season,” Becker said. “This year, we’re returning four starters from last year’s varsity team. We have a young, experienced team.”

Even with the loss of Chris McGrotty to graduation last June, the Wildcats should be a contender in the Shore Conference Class B South division. Becker’s crew went 11-5 overall a year ago, but lost four divisional contests to finish 7-4.

“It was a tough season to lose twice to Lacey and once each to Central and Jackson Liberty,” said Becker, now in his 11th season as coach. “We lost those four matches by a combined nine strokes.”

The B South division won’t be easier this season; it isn’t easy any year. But the Wildcats have a solid bunch ready to take charge, starting with their returning starters: senior Ben DeFiglio, junior Connor Carney and sophomores Kayla Gutierrez and Austin Carney. Those four should occupy the top four positions for most of the season, while a whole bunch will vie for the fifth spot on a daily basis, including seniors Erin Petrauskas, Matt Muller and Jacob Ortiz-Episcipo; sophomores David Laney, Alex Dimm, Creed Nass and P.J. Losiewicz; and freshman Nathan Szwed.

Last April, the Carney brothers and Gutierrez each scored 94 to lead Pinelands to an eighth-place finish in the Ocean County Tournament. In the season-opening Wall Invitational on March 28, Gutierrez led the Wildcats with an 84, followed by Connor Carney with an 85 and Austin Carney with a 97. Szwed and DeFiglio carded 106 and 115, respectively.

While the B South season got underway on April 3 against Manchester, Pinelands was slated to host its annual Wildcat Invitational at Sea Oaks Country Club on April 6. But next week is when the bulk of the divisional schedule really gets into gear, as the Wildcats hit the road to take on Jackson Liberty (April 10) before hosting Point Pleasant Borough (April 11) and Lacey (April 13), with a non-conference contest against Absegami mixed in on April 12.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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