Baker wins playoff, heading to state
RIFLE – Tight fairways and galleries wreck most golfers. Not Eagle Valley’s Jeanette Baker.Baker worked the back nine at Rifle Creek, then beat out three golfers in a playoff to earn the final spot to state Tuesday at girls’ regionals in Rifle.”It was kind of weird – all my drives were going straight,” Baker said of her 46 on the tight and challenging back nine. “I was getting on the green in two or three on every hole.”After a tough front nine (Baker started on the back), Eagle Valley’s top golfer on the day wasn’t sure she had shot low enough to qualify for state.”I had high hopes, but today I shot two 9’s and I hadn’t shot one since early sophomore year,” the junior Baker said. “When I shot them today, I thought I was done. When I got back (to the clubhouse) with a 98, three other girls had that (score).”Baker and the three others had to play playoff holes to determine the tenth-place finish. On the first playoff hole, No. 9, Baker and two other golfers tied with a 5.
“It was nerve wrecking,” Baker said. “Everyone was watching. All of the teams were at the edge of the green.”Baker wasn’t too fond of the next playoff hole – No. 1.”It was my second-worst hole of the day,” Baker said. “It was funny because all of us had gotten 7’s (on No. 1 earlier). It was up for grabs.”After her longest drive of the day – about 265 yards – Baker was in good position for the rest of the hole, and she finished with a five to win the tiebreaker.”I’m so excited – this is my second time at regionals,” Baker said. “I picked up a club my freshman year and went at it. I thought it would be better than track – I hate running.”Baker led the Devils, who finished tied for eighth with a score of 346. Battle Mountain was 12th with a 396.
Fast and tiltedRifle Creek’s greens were quick and caused for higher-than-normal putts.”They were faster than heck,” said Devils’ coach Cory Strickler.”The pin placements were awful,” Baker said. “Putting isn’t my strong point. (Driving) is my strongest point. (Everyone) catches up to me on putting green.”Behind Baker was teammate Emily Boyd with a 118, while Caitlin Yarger rounded out the scoring at 130. For Battle Mountain, Cassie Gonzales had a 124, Andrea Kedrowski shot a 139 and Julya Champman had a 139.”I’m happy with the way they hit them,” said Battle Mountain coach Cassie Desmone. “They improved so much this year. I’m going to try and push summer golf for the kids.”
Baker will be in Windsor for the state tournament, which starts on May 21st. There is a practice round the day before.”I’m really nervous,” Baker said. “But it’s a learning experience.”Eagle Valley returns all of its golfers next year.”We’re all juniors and sophomores,” Baker said. “We’ll have a good team next year. Emily dropped a lot of strokes this year. Hopefully Keegan (Hammond), Emily and I can make it next year (to state).”Last summer Baker played lots of softball and basketball, but hopes to spend more time on the links this summer out at Cotton Ranch Golf Club.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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