The departure of 10 of Oakdale High’s 14 girl golfers from 2011 has given the program an extreme makeover in 2012, but Oakdale coach Lee McGhee says the reality show is far from over.
Oakdale is 1-1 in Valley Oak League action with 12 contests left on the conference docket as of Monday. Still looming are returning league champs, East Union, but Oakdale expects to battle for match wins with the rest of the field.
“It’s a great opportunity to have kids that want to learn how to play and come in looking to learn how to do things,” McGhee said. “It gives (assistant coach Jeremy Fields) and I a chance to show them the right way to do things.”
Oakdale graduated seniors Nicky Stastny, Michelle DesRochers and Rebecca Cone from the active lineup and took a serious hit when 2011 undefeated VOL MVP Mabel Wong elected not to join the team on the links this fall.
With the old star power gone, Oakdale will rely on a new cast of competitors that is headlined by sophomore and five-year golfer, Dylanie Donahue. The elfin linkster shot a 45 to nab medalist honors as Oakdale slipped to a narrow defeat to upstart Kimball (282-293) on Aug. 28. She carded an impressive 38-stroke performance to take the medalist slot two days later as Oakdale shot 228 during a forfeit win over Weston Ranch.
Donahue was third on the team in conference points a season ago and shined at the VOL championships, where she was second on her team and 13th among 35 competing girls. With most of her former teammates absent from the lineup, Donahue has realistic expectations for 2012.
“I think even though we may not win a lot of matches, we can accomplish a lot of our personal goals this year,” Donahue said on Monday. “I’m really excited this year, because even though our team may not be the best, the girls are pretty cool and we can all accomplish a lot together.”
Just behind Donahue in Oakdale’s lineup is senior Jenna Heaton, who shot well at the conference tourney (18th) and landed action in eight of Oakdale’s last 10 nine-hole stanzas to close the year. She shot a stunning 49 for the 10th best score of any VOL golfer on the back-nine of the league tournament in 2011. Heaton went 51, 39 during the 2012 matches against Kimball and Weston Ranch, respectively.
Valarie Zemlyanskaya recorded scores in seven conference matches last year and is back for her junior season. She shot a 50 against Sierra for her top score of 2011 and was Oakdale’s No. 3 scorer (60) against Kimball to open this season.
Oakdale’s lineup also includes sophomore and returning reserve golfer Jazmine Velazquez (50 against Weston Ranch) and first year linksters in junior Jessica Shatswell (52) and junior Bonnie Findlay (49). Reserve juniors Haley Munns and Izzy Arellano round out the program roster.
Oakdale hosted Manteca (1-1) on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The Mustangs are at Sonora (2-0) today, Sept. 5.
“We are enthusiastic about where we can be this year,” coach McGhee said. “Most of the league’s scores were pretty even on the first day and even though we lost by 11 to start league, I feel like we are right in there.”