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High school notebook: Gainesville girls golfers benefitting from rule change
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Gainesville girls golf coach Clay McDonald was one of the most ardent supporters of a change to the Georgia High School Association’s girls’ golf scoring rules, and for good reason.

Not only did McDonald, the Region 8-AAA girls representative to the GHSA last season, want to see girls golf become more of a team sport than just individually dominated, and by counting three girls scores for the first time this season instead of two for all official GHSA events, the Lady Red Elephants have been able to show off their depth.

"The three scores for the girls have been tremendous for us, just like I thought it would," McDonald said. "It's good to get as many of those scores to count as possible.

"And it's really good that you get more girls out there to be involved."

Of course, they were pretty much unbeatable last season just counting the top two girls scores, to the point of winning a Class AAA state championship. That team sported three underclassmen in Madeline Harr, Morgan Reece and Meg Callahan. Reece was the team’s top scorer at state and Harr led the way at region.

They’re all back for more.

On Tuesday at Royal Lakes Golf Club in Flowery Branch, it was Callahan who led the way with an 80 to lead the Lady Red Elephants to a sixth consecutive Hall County Championship. To show off that depth that makes them state title contenders again this season despite a move to Class AAAAA, Reece finished with an 84 and Harr carded an 87 as the Gainesville golfers finished 1-2-3.

For the Lady Red Elephants, like their fellow defending state champion Gainesville boys golf team, the more scores the merrier.

GAINESVILLE BASEBALL HAS BIG TEST TO START REGION PLAY: The Red Elephants (8-0) don’t get the opportunity to ease into the Region 8-AAAAA schedule this season.

Gainesville, previously in Class AAA, opens its first 8-AAAAA schedule – which is almost entirely made up of former 8-AAAA teams – at 5:55 p.m. today against 2012 Region 8-AAAA runner-up Winder-Barrow (5-1). The Bulldoggs and Class AAAA defending state champions Loganville have been the perennial top-two teams in 8-AAAA for the past few seasons, and matched up in the region championship series last season. Winder-Barrow won the regular season meeting but Loganville won the postseason series to grab the No. 1 seed.

The Bulldoggs were upset by North Forsyth in the first round of the playoffs last season, while Gainesville reached the semifinals in Class AAA. And while Winder-Barrow lacks the national rankings that both the Red Elephants and Red Devils possess, the Bulldoggs have one of the state’s top prospects in senior third baseman/pitcher Travis Demeritte, a South Carolina recruit.

Today’s game is the first of a two-game series, the format in place for the region schedule. The two teams will play a second time Monday in Winder.

Gainesville goes into the series on fire, having won six of its first eight games by 10 runs or more, and is led by junior pitcher/centerfielder Michael Gettys, who has yet to allow a run on the mound in three starts, all wins and including one no-hitter. He’s allowed just two hits to go along with 26 strikeouts and just five walks. At the plate, he’s hitting .417 with 15 runs scored and three triples.

The series with Loganville and fellow region foe Flowery Branch won’t be played until later in the season, but the Red Elephants can take the first big step toward a region title against another of the region’s best.

HALL COUNTY BOYS SOCCER SHAKEUP: Last year Gainesville was the undisputed best team in the county, advancing to the Class AAA state finals before being defeated.

This year the Red Elephants (4-3-1) will have a tough task to get through the new Region 8-AAAAA, while two other former 8-AAA teams are making cases for the county’s best team early on.

Chestatee (7-1) is 2-0 in the new 8-AAAA and took down Gainesville 4-1 on Tuesday.

And No. 3-ranked West Hall (8-0), which handed Chestatee a 3-0 defeat for the War Eagles only loss, has a chance to make a big statement in Region 7-AAA against Buford (5-1) in the region opener at 7:30 tonight in Buford.

The Spartans are doing this all with a new coach at the helm in Andrew McCain, who took over this season from Wolfgang Jager, who coached the team from the very beginning until his retirement after last season.

Of course, the region schedule doesn’t get any easier. After Buford, West Hall’s next opponent is 2012 Class AA state quarterfinalists East Hall (5-1) on March 22, followed by Dawson County.

“The next three games will determine if we are on top of the region,” McCain said.

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