FLEETVILLE — During their first year on the links, members of the Abington Heights girls golf team have made both birdies and friendships.
Juniors Abby Schrader and Lucy Earl, along with freshmen Elizabeth Franchetti and Kaylin Wilbur, make up the inaugural team.
“We started out with three girls and added a fourth,” Abington Heights coach Brian Franchetti said. “They’re having fun and meeting new friends.”
The squad has a 3-4 record so far this season, but just being on the course with friends has made the season worthwhile.
“I’ve been trying to get a team going since my freshman year,” Schrader said.
Earl has also enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with playing a team sport.
“It’s nice being able to play with girls my age because it’s hard to find people who want to come out and golf,” she said.
The team got a late start to the season and was searching for a place to play when Schrader’s grandparents, who own Lakeland Golf Club, step forward to let the girls use the course for free.
While the team has enough players to qualify for matches — the top three scores count toward the team’s number — Franchetti would like to see more participation.
“We’re hoping to pick up a few girls next year,” he said. “There are some younger girls who golf and also girls who are golfers, but play other sports because there never was a team.”
Elizabeth Franchetti posted the lowest score for Abington Heights in each of the team’s matches and has also performed well in some individual tournaments.
She placed 12th — and second among freshmen — by shooting a 97 in the Irving Jackman Memorial Girls Tournament at the Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
She finished third in the Lackawanna League District 2 qualifier, also at Scranton Muni, by shooting a 92 to earn a spot in the District 2/4 Class 3A Subregional Tournament Oct. 1 at Elmhurst County Club.
“I’ve definitely been playing a lot better than I expected to be this season,” Elizabeth said. “Shooting the 92 surprised me because my best score before then was a 96.”
According to Brian Franchetti, Elizabeth started on the back nine and shot a 49 and closed with a 43 on the front nine.
“Her driving was as good as it’s been all season,” he said.
Earl began playing golf in sixth grade as part of a girls program at Lakeland Golf Club and has tightened up her short game since joining the team at Abington Heights.
“My putting has improved and that’s the one thing I’ve always struggled with the most,” she said.
Wilbur, who picked up the sport two years ago, has been hitting better tee shots since joining the team and enjoys receiving advice from her teammates.
“It’s nice to talk to them and get their input,” she said.
Schrader began playing golf at the age of 8 and has thrived in the team setting.
“I’m definitely more focused and less stressed out,” she said. “I tend to hit better drives and approach shots now. I know that I have my team and we pull each other up.”
During a 149-151 win over Scranton Prep, Franchetti shot a 47, Schrader carded a 50 and Earl shot a 52 on the front nine at the Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
During a 137-131 loss to North Pocono, Franchetti shot a 41, Schrader carded a 44 and Earl shot a 52 at Lakeland Golf Club.
During a 174-172 loss to North Pocono, Franchetti carded a 51, Earl shot a 60 and Schrader shot a 63 on the front nine at Elmhurst Country Club
During a four-way match in which Abington Heights earned wins over Holy Cross (133-147) and Scranton Prep (133-147) and lost to North Pocono (133-129), Franchetti shot a 36, Schrader carded a 48 and Earl shot a 49 at Scott Greens Golf Club.
During a 170-154 loss to Hazleton Area, Franchetti shot a 49, Earl carded a 58 and Wilbur shot a 63 at Sugarloaf Golf Club.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.