With Nixa's Addison Towe falling just one stroke short of advancing to Sectionals last season, naturally her goal this year is to make it out of Districts. Likewise, Lady Eagles coach Jeff Lotz thinks Shelbi Miller should be shooting for Sectionals.
“I’m optimistic if they continue to work hard and practice, they both have a shot at Sectionals,” Lotz said. “That’s their motivation.”
Lotz feels Towe and Miller will improve markedly from their sophomore season to their junior year, after gaining experience a year ago.
“You’re more sure of yourself as a junior because you’ve been there before,” he said. “As a freshman and sophomore, you can doubt whether your belong there or not.
"I know Shelbi had a good off-season. She got a membership at Hidden Valley (Golf Course) and played a lot of golf. I’m hoping she feels like deserves to have success because of the time she put in.”
Kailey Tate returns after a freshman season in which she showed great improvement.
“She came in not knowing a thing about golf and didn’t even own a set of clubs,” Lotz said. “I was very pleased with her progress. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s been a pleasant surprise that she’s retrained her skills from last year.”
An ankle injury has slowed Tate in the pre-season.
The rest of the Lady Eagles are playing competitive golf for the first time.
One first-year player of note is Emily Edwards, a former basketball standout for Nixa whose hoops career ended after she was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition.
“Being athletic doesn’t always transfer to being a good golfer, but you never know,” Lotz said. “She’s used to playing (a sport) at a high level and is so driven to be the best she can. She’s been a sponge, listening and absorbing everything.”
Lotz added all of his newcomers have impressed him with their attitude.
“They’re eager and very excited, which makes my job a lot better,” Lotz said. “They’re coachable. They genuinely want to get better."
Nixa tees off at the Seymour Invitational Sept. 5 at Marshfield.