Smithers leads Lady Braves to 11-stroke victory
South Jones golfer Emma Smithers was nowhere to be found one day during practice after coach Koby Easterling called everyone inside the clubhouse during a downpour.
“I looked out the window of the pro shop and she was practicing her 100-yard shot on the No. 2 green in the pouring rain,” Easterling recalled. “You can’t coach work ethic, and they never quit working.”
After practicing in the rain, Smithers and the Lady Braves are now celebrating their reign as state champions.
Led by medalist Smithers’ two-day total of 153 (79-74) — 5 strokes better than second-place finisher Grace Holley of Long Beach (78-80—158) — South Jones shot a team score of 381 to top Germantown (393) by 11 strokes to win the Class 5A state title on its home course, Laurel Country Club.
Smithers, who is a senior, sank a 15-foot par putt on No. 14 that “sealed the deal for her medalist honors and the championship for us,” Easterling said.
Senior Madison Diers was consistent (115-116) and junior Baylee Boyette (124-113) improved by 11 strokes on the second and final day to help the Lady Braves win their first state championship in golf. Their only match losses this season were to 6A champ Ocean Springs and to Holley and Long Beach on their home course.
“It’s been one of the great honors of my life,” Easterling said. “They are a hard-working group and great kids. They will be successful at whatever they decide to do.”