By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – South Effingham junior Hillary Smith shot a career-best 83 during her second round at the Indian Mound golf course on Jekyll Island to help the Mustangs' girls to a sixth-place finish at the Class 6A Girls Golf State Championships.
SEHS finished with a team score of 273-277 550 during the two-day, 36-hole tournament which concluded May 23.
Smith, who battled with sickness, had a 93 on the first day but her sizzling second round pushed her to a team-leading score of 176. Cayla Tasney was second for the Mustangs with a 183 followed by seniors Alyssa Marburger and Hannah Smith (both at 195) and sophomore Ansley Adkins' 234.
"It was a good end to the season after (disappointment) at area (championship)," said Beth Goggin, who co-coaches the team with her husband Pete Goggin.
At the Area 1-6A championships, South fell just one shot short of finishing second and automatically qualifying for state. By placing third, however, the Mustangs advanced to Sectionals and still made state (much like a wild-card team in pro sports makes it to the postseason) with another third-place finish.
The top four teams at Sectionals, along with the top two teams from four different areas, made the 12-team state field.
At Sectionals, a one-day, 18-hole tourney at the Mirror Lake Golf Club in Villa Rica, Tasney led the way for the Mustangs with a 93. Hillary Smith shot a 94 and Marburger had a 106 for a team total of 293.
The top three golfers' scores contribute to the team score.
Effingham County's girls placed fourth at area and also made Sectionals, but finished seventh with a score of 316 and failed to make state. Natalie Altman shot a 98 to lead the Rebels.
ECHS' Strickland earns area goalie-of-year honor
Effingham County junior Faith Strickland recorded a 7.5 goal against average (per game) and had a 0.654 save percentage to earn Class 5A-6A Area 7 Goalie-of-the-Year honors recently.
Strickland's teammates Caleigh Eubanks (attack) and Ava Deloach (defense) captured first-team, all-area honors as well as Strickland.
Audrey Ubernosky (midfield), Megan Coleman (attack), Mackenzie Brown (attack) and Morgan Coleman (midfield) made all-area second team.
And Alaina Garcia (goalie), Olivia Morgan (midfield) and Rachel Franks (defense) were honorable mention all-area.
The ECHS girls set a school record with nine wins this spring and advanced to the Class 5A-6A state tournament.