Throughout its history, the San Benito High girls golf team has been a program filled with players who are learning the game for the first time. Occasionally, the Haybalers feature a standout or two to go along with a team that can contend for a league championship.
Molly Orsetti, who is in her first year as the San Benito coach after serving as the assistant last season, believes this year’s team has the talent, work ethic and drive to make some serious noise on the links.
“Our players look really good,” Orsetti said. “I’m super impressed with how the girls are performing in practice. The shotmaking is there, they’re focused and they’re eager to learn all aspects of the game. I’m looking at them at the driving range and I can’t wait to see them in match action.”
The Balers played their season-opener last Tuesday, dropping a lopsided decision to Stevenson at Spyglass Hill. With heavy fog and wind, conditions were not ripe for San Benito to score well.
The roster includes Baillie Figone-Gallagher, Kami Brewer-Pozzi, Bailey Carmichael, Hannah Higgins, Dylan Kelly, Taryn Mills, Trinity Mumm, Carisa Powell, Kailey Powell, Jocelyne Prado, Yosy Rodriguez, Olivia Sanders, Emilie Sarringhaus, Sierra Smith, Julia Szabo and Ella Pascua.
A year ago, the Balers had no seniors on the roster. It amounted to a rebuilding season, and yet it was a solid one, as many players learned the game for the first time while making incremental improvement. This season, however, the Balers expect to be competitive—if not contend—for a Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division championship.
“I feel like our team has a lot of confidence, and we’re going to do very well,” Figone-Gallagher said. “One of our top three players is a freshmen, Dylan, and she’s done really well. We have a lot of players who are hungry to reach the goals they set out for themselves.”
In Brewer-Pozzi, Kelly and Figone-Gallagher, the Balers have three players who hope to shoot a sub 40 on a given round.
“Kami strikes the ball exceptionally well,” Orsetti said. “Her course management is great and focus is impeccable. Baillie hits the ball a long way, and she’s dedicated, positive, and encouraging with the rest of her teammates. And with Dylan, I’ve been impressed with her skill set and what she’s brought to practice so far.”
Orsetti said despite Kelly’s lack of match experience, the freshman should fare very well.
“I don’t think she’s ever played nine holes before (Tuesday’s match),” Orsetti said. “She definitely doesn’t strike or hit the ball like a beginner or a new player, that’s for sure.”
The San Benito coach said it was nice knowing some of the returning players played a lot of golf in the off-season. Brewer-Pozzi attended a Stanford golf camp for the second straight year, honing her game in preparation for a breakout junior season.
“Kami spent a lot of time at the practice range, and I know she’s going to have a big year with some great results,” Orsetti said. “Baillie also spent a ton of time working on her game over the summer, and that was incredibly obvious in the early weeks of our practice.”
Indeed, Figone-Gallagher played more golf in the past year than any other similar period of time since she started the sport at age 5. Under the tutelage of former San Juan Oaks golf pro Scott Adams, Figone-Gallagher made dramatic improvements in her game.
“I actually practiced for a lot of months several times a week,” she said. “Scott Adams really helped me tighten my skills and become a better player. Shot making wise, he taught me to keep my balance, swing evenly and follow through. And mentally it was to not overthink things—you want to have fun with the game.”
Orsetti said she was also encouraged for the players who entered the program two or three years ago as beginners, but stuck with it and developed into bona-fide golfers.
“Olivia Sanders, Bailey Carmichael, Sierra Smith and Trinity Mumm had never played before they got to high school, and now they’re hitting the ball beautifully,” Orsetti said. “To see how they can grow over a few seasons is definitely a positive. As they improve, they’ll get more competitive and also push each other to be better players. I’ve been impressed with Sierra Smith’s strength hitting the ball, Olivia’s course management, and Bailey’s ball-striking. Trinity Mumm has an affinity for the rules of golf that is amazing.”