CLINTON — Coach Dan Sullivan says this is the year for his Clinton girls golf team to break through.
He is hoping that with a little confidence and consistency his experienced squad can compete with anybody in the Mississippi Athletic Conference not named Pleasant Valley.
The River Queens opened their season Monday on a soggy Clinton Country Club at the Oaks and finished second behind the defending conference champion Spartans. Pleasant Valley won with a 170-stroke total, while Clinton and North Scott tied in the triangular on the back nine with 235s.
“Starting with PV is tough on the kids’ psyche,” Sullivan said.
The Spartans are led by two-time conference medalist Anna Cullinan and 2012 third-place finisher Rachele Miller. They tied for medalist honors Monday, each shooting a 3-over-par 39.
The River Queens were missing two of their returning players, including 2012 MAC runner-up Amanda Harrop.
“We only had five girls and had to play a freshman up,” Sullivan said. “She (Rachelle Susie) did a great job and shot a 68.”
Course conditions were far from ideal, too. The course hadn’t dried out from heavy rain in the morning.
“It was real muddy, a lot of standing water,” Sullivan said. “We had to go to a winter-rules type of thing.”
“I expect our scores to drop a lot. I see us breaking 200.”
Of course, he is counting on the players using their experience as a benefit.
Besides Harrop, Alli Gallardo, Brittany Coppess, Britani Moore, Trista Gooch and Karley Sullivan all have varsity experience. Coppess led the Queens on Monday with a 49.
“Brittany has seen all the courses, so it’s going to get easier,” Sullivan said. “Alli has been around long enough. Britani Moore keeps knocking off strokes every time she plays.”
What they lack, though, according to Sullivan, is confidence.