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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2014:08:11 09:18:05

STAFF PHOTOS/ JOHN LUND Sophomore Brittany Zamber follows the ball after her shot at Shawbrook Golf Course Monday.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2014:08:11 09:16:24

Tunkhannock senior Molly Hampsey watches her tee shot during the first day of fall practice on Monday.

After fielding the first all-girls team in Wyoming Valley Conference history last season, the Tunkhannock Area girls’ golf team is here to stay.

After losing Sam Reposa to graduation, the Lady Tigers return four golfers from last season, including incoming senior Molly Hampsey, who qualified for individual districts last year.

Head coach Andy Neely has seen incredible improvement from the team since its inception, and hopes that the girls continue to improve their skills as the season wears on.

“From this time last year, all of them have made huge individual strides,” Neely said. “If they can come close to improving half that this year, we have a very legitimate shot of going very far.”

As one of the few schools to break ground with an all-girls team, Tunkhannock struggled to find opponents last season and had to settle for a handful of team matches and tournament appearances.

But if Scranton Prep’s team makes the move to Class AA, the Lady Tigers would find themselves in the driver’s seat of having a chance to take home some hardware at season’s end.

“I’m not sure who is actually out there,” Neely said. “We’ve been trying to manufacture a girls’ schedule since the spring but it’s tough because you have to make your own. It’s tough for some teams because they won’t even know what they have until this week. But with our top four returning, I like our chances.”

While improvements have been made, Neely said there’s still plenty to work on to get ready for the season.

“Their ball striking has improved dramatically and they’re consistently hitting straighter, longer shots to get scores down,” Neely said. “The more they play, the better their chipping and putting will become and that will eliminate quite a few strokes because of missing shots around the green. Experience for them has been everything.”

Neely noted that districts for the girls team will differ from the boys, as the girls will have to shoot a set number because there aren’t enough made up teams.

Because of that, the Lady Tigers would automatically move on to states if they play well at districts because of lack of teams to play in regionals.

“We’ve already started talking about our goals and the number they’ll be shooting for,” Neely said. “The team’s goal is to make states, and we’ll be working hard to achieve that.”

Neely hopes that regardless of the outcome at the end of the season, the girls who created and make up the team realize the magnitude of what they’ve done, not only for the school, but for the whole league.

“They were pioneers,” Neely said. “They started this not only at Tunkhannock but as the first team in the history of the Wyoming Valley Conference. As the season winds down it will be much more special to look back and see not only what they accomplished this season but the legacy they’ll leave behind moving forward. I think they’ll understand the gravity of their accomplishment.”

Joining Hampsey on the team will be returning sophomores Emma Harding, Olivia Carichner and Brittany Zamber and freshman Taylor Zackarias.