PHS girls golf team eyes historic VVAL title

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Petaluma High School may be on its way to the area’s first Vine Valley Athletic League pennant.

Going into this week’s play, the Trojan girls golf team was undefeated at 5-0, and playing consistently over some unfamiliar courses.

“Our biggest issue has been the travel and playing golf courses we don’t know,” said Petaluma coach Chris Jones. “We’re playing against teams we don’t know anything about and I’m coaching against coaches I don’t know.”

He said that over the years, players form friendships with girls from other teams, and he gets to know and make friends with other coaches.

“It was kind of hard to leave (the Sonoma County League),” he said.

Petaluma is led by Lilly Catarozoli, who Jones said played well enough to follow her graduated sister, Sarah Jane, as Redwood Empire Player of the Year, had not the area fires not caused disruption of the All-Empire Girls Golf team last season.

“She is absolutely among the top three golfers in our new league,” he said.

Another four-year senior, Olivia Zimmerman, is probably the team’s steadiest player. “She is just flat-out consistent,” Jones said. “You always know what you are going to get from her.”

Sophomore surprise Channing Matthews has made a remarkable improvement, taking as many as 20 strokes off last year’s scores. “She did a lot of work over the summer and she has blossomed,” the coach said.

Jones said senior Simone Smith has “picked the game up where she left off last year, and worked hard to improve.”

The coach said Kalea Howe plays No. 5, and has an abundance of talent. “She doesn’t know how good she can be,” he noted.

Senior Hallie Starke, in her first year on the team, is still learning, but brings a wealth of enthusiasm.

Chloe Scott is a lefty first-year player.

Jones said freshman Ellie Oatman is “a natural athlete who is just learning the game.”

The coach has been very impressed with freshman Mya Brooks. “She is going to be our Rookie of the Year,” he said. “Her scores are not typical scores for a freshman. She is going to be pretty awesome.”

Jones has high hopes for the Trojans. “We could be competitive at North Coast Section,” he said. “It just depends on how far they want to go.”

Jones also has two girls from Casa Grande — Bella Husany and Jordan Baughn — playing with his Trojans.

He took them in when Casa Grande had to cancel its golf program for lack of players.

Every match the Petaluma teams play is scored separately with the Gaucho duo scoring incomplete as a team, but still getting to play a full schedule and accumulate individual points that count in the quest for post-season play.

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