Jun. 30—WHITE PLAINS — It took a while for Baylie Webb to regain her swing in the 2021 high school golf season. Once she did, White Plains had the green light to swing for a state title.
For leading the Wildcats in their postseason run, Webb is The Anniston Star's Calhoun County player of the year for girls golf.
The junior finished third at the county tournament, second at sectionals and third in the Class 4A-5A state tournament at Robert Trent Jones-Magnolia Grove in Mobile. She also made the White Plains Invitational all-tourney team.
She finished the season with an 82-stroke average but hit in the 70s after swing coach Liz Mattioli helped her to make an in-season adjustment.
White Plains' team returns next season, and Webb hopes to help the Wildcats match the 2015 and 2016 teams that won consecutive state titles.
She took a few minutes to discuss this past season and more for the player-of-the-year Q&A:
Question: Now that you've had time to reflect on such a successful season, what comes to mind?
Answer: I started a little rough at the beginning of the season, and I actually had to go through a swing change about halfway through the season. She told me it's going to take a while, because my swing was really bad. Between quarantine and everything, I hadn't had a chance to go back to get another lesson, so she said, 'You've got to take your time and really practice.' I went through a couple of rough tournaments right after that, and it discouraged me a little bit. I was like, 'It's my junior year, and I really need to have a good season, but my swing is just not where it needs to be.' I think the White Plains Invitational was my first time shooting a good score that I know I can shoot. I think I shot a 78, and that's when my game started to turn around.
Q: What was the change?
A: She said I was coming a little inside-out on my swing, and I needed to get back in a more smooth swing path. It just took more muscle memory to get back to where I was. After I practiced enough, it went back to something more natural. That used to be what my swing was. She said that, during quarantine, I was goofing off and not really practicing, or just playing, and I had gotten back into my old habits.
Q: How has the team's accomplishments settled on you?
A: I was very happy with the team this year. I knew we had a chance at the end of the season, that we could win, but I wasn't fully convinced that we could do the whole thing, but the team just grew as the season went on. We were strong at the beginning (of the state tournament), but then we really held it out at the end of the tournament. A 240 was our goal, and we got a 241, so that's about as close as you can get. I was just really happy. I'm really excited for next year. We're not losing anybody, and I think we're going to keep improving on our skills, and I think it's going to be a good year.
Q: Coach Randall said he had to keep the boys from getting overconfident and had to make the girls believe. Is that how you saw it?
A: At the beginning of the season, I was playing bad, and they were worrying about me more than anything else. We played at Cane Break the week before the White Plains Invitational, and Isabel Rogers, our number three, shot a really good score. We knew that, if she was on, everybody would be on. Me and Abby (Gattis) had it in us, and I think that was the turning point of the season. That really gave her the confidence she needed, and all of us, to say, 'Hey, we've got this. Let's go in with confidence and just really practice our heart out so we can make our dream a reality.'
Q: Next year, will Coach Randall have to approach you guys like he did the boys this year?
A: Try not to get overconfident, because back to back is always the goal. It's just even more pressure to make it what it needs to be.
Q: The 2015 and 2016 teams went back to back. How much does matching them fuel motivation for next year?
A: That's definitely the motivation, and, if we did go back to back, it would be at the same two courses that that original team went back to back in. That would be really special. I'm just excited.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.