Upstart Balers a hit on the links

The San Benito High girls golf team has made dramatic improvement in the last couple of years. Photo by Robert Eliason.

With a team GPA of 3.74, the San Benito High girls golf squad excels in the classroom. The Haybalers are also doing some impressive things on the links. In Trinity Mumm, Bailey Carmichael and Taryn Mills—their top three players—the Balers are in the middle of the pack in the Pacific Coast League’s Gabilan Division.

One of the trio’s best matches came in a 252-304 win over Pacific Grove on Sept. 20, in which Mumm shot a 41, with Carmichael and Mills each carding a 45. Mills and Mumm are juniors, while Carmichael is a senior. Through last week, Mumm carried a 45.57 scoring average, Carmichael a 47.57 and Mills a 51.43.

Senior twins Carisa and Kailey Powell and junior Emilie Sarringhaus have also improved and made a positive impact. The Powells and Sarringhaus were all competing along with other players for the Nos. 3 to 6 positions in the lineup a year ago, but this season they’ve solidified their spots.

“Last year there was a fight to play those positions every week,” Balers coach Molly Orsetti said. “They realized what they needed to do to stay in those varsity positions this year. This year there is more of a divide between the varsity and junior varsity, and they’re playing well.”

The highlight of the season came when the team shot a school-record 233 against Stevenson on Sept. 13, breaking the record the 2017 team set just a year ago.

“They’re noticing strengths in their games and just as important the gaps in their game where they need to improve,” Orsetti said. “They’re working on those gaps, and we’ve been focusing a lot more on the short game and putting this season. They’re seeing the hard work reflect in lower scores.”

Orsetti credits assistant coaches Pine Higgins and Joan Sarringhaus for helping the players through their knowledge of the rules of golf and experience playing the game. Carmichael and Mills are the team captains, but the squad also has a designated match captain for every game.

“Each girl takes on a role to help the team in different ways,” Orsetti said. “They’re responsible for introducing themselves to the visiting coach, welcome the other teams and at the end of each match announce the results. Our team is unique in the league in that we give out a medal for the medalist. All of this gives them an opportunity for a little public speaking and interaction with other coaches and players. They’re also responsible for going to the pro shop, introducing themselves and saying thank you for hosting us. It’s great because they’re learning some life skills in the process.”

Carmichael and Mills decide on the designated match captain, based off of practice and recent results, among other factors.

“I think everyone has been a match captain so far,” Orsetti said.

The Balers are extremely fortunate they play in the same league with Stevenson of Pebble Beach, which plays its home matches at world-class courses like Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills. When San Benito plays against Stevenson on Oct. 9, the varsity will be competing at Spyglass and the junior varsity at Poppy Hills.

Orsetti hopes the girls realize just how fortunate they are—and with good reason.  Green fees to play on those courses for the public typically run in the $300 to $500 range, and reservations to play on the courses need to be made at least a month in advance due to high demand.

Orsetti was effusive in her praise for all of the girls in the program, and pointed to the top three players as setting good examples for the underclassmen to follow.

“(Trinity, Bailey and Taryn) are all pretty quiet on the course,” she said. “They all have good power and distance off the tee, and their ball striking is solid. I can’t tell with any of them if they’re having a personal best day or if they’re playing terrible, and that’s a good thing to be even-keeled. Until we get onto the ninth green, I don’t know what their total scores are because they keep it together. They’re also really supportive of each other and to the other team, showing great sportsmanship.”

To show just how far the Balers have come, look no further than Mumm, who never kept score on the course until she started high school, or Carmichael, who never played a nine-hole round until her freshman year, Orsetti said.

“The younger girls look at this and think, ‘This is where I can be in a couple of years,’” Orsetti said. “They get excited to improve for the future seasons.”

While the boys golf team has had recent players earn scholarships to play in college, it’s been a while since anyone from the girls team has done that. Orsetti hopes that changes in the coming years. When the Balers played against Carmel on Sept. 19, Menlo College coach Mike Givens was there to scout a Carmel player.

But having seen some of the San Benito players there, he asked Orsetti if he could drop by a practice one day to talk with the team.

“Now they’re getting excited about the possibility of playing in college, whereas before when you’re shooting in the 50s or 60s, that is not an option,” Orsetti said. “The Menlo coach will tell the girls what it will take to play in college, the different options after high school and giving other good information. You can’t beat that.”

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