PLAS set to host tourney to open season

Published 11:54 pm Monday, February 27, 2012

When your team goes undefeated there can be a lot of high expectations coming back the next season, especially in a program as successful as the Pike Liberal Arts School golf team.

The Patriots will be opening the 2012 season at home on Tuesday, March 1, with a tournament that will include almost a dozen Alabama Independent School Association teams including Lee-Scott, Fort Dale and Northside Methodist.

Patriots head coach Denny Sanford knows his team has potential to be successful in 2012, but is realistic of the need for his team to rebuild and develop.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“This is definitely a rebuilding year for us,” Sanford said. “We’ve lost two state championship players from last season but we do have Stewart Pinkard returning and several younger people coming in we’ll be trying to develop. We’ll be okay this season we just may not be the favorites like we were. When you go undefeated like we did last year it’s tough to improve on that but it’s an entirely different team and we just need to develop.”

The patriots will be leading off the tournament with a five player-lineup including Pinkard, freshman Ryan Johnson, Will Sanford, Marcus Stevens and Preston Rhodes.

The Patriots have been working to prepare their game for the season opener, as well as identify some of the weaker areas such as the team’s short game.

“Right now it’s probably the rustiest thing for everyone,” Sanford said. “Our putting will probably come around quicker than our chipping but one of the main things was the kids have all been playing other sports and haven’t had time for practice. We’re having to practice and some of the guys are going to a swing coach but after such a long layoff all you can do is work on it.”

Despite some potential shortcomings on the green one area the Patriots will be able to flex their muscles in is the drive game, which Sanford says is one of the strongest assets for some of his starters.

“Our top four or five guys really dig into their tee shots and can hit it long,” he said. “Marcus is one who’s shown improvement but is better on iron play but Will and Stewart are drivers it really is a big part of their game.”

Although the top five players will be leading off the season, the Patriots have a good deal of upcoming talent that has potential to be a solid asset for the team, like Susie Stell.

“The youngest player we have right now is Susie,” Sanford said. “She’s about four feet tall and has the most positive attitude out of anyone on the team. If she can keep up that enthusiasm she’ll be a good golfer for us so be sure to look out for her.”

There’s little doubt that the 2012 Patriots have a lot to live up too after the success of last season, and while they may not emerge as favorites for every tournament they have good potential.

The Patriots will kick off their season Tuesday with a tournament at the Troy Country Club with a scheduled noon tee-off time.