CICERO – Annabelle Pancake didn’t know it at the time, but the HCC title came down to the final hole between her and Westfield’s Jocelyn Bruch on Tuesday afternoon.
As they walked to the 18th tee box at Bear Slide, the Shamrocks held a one-shot lead over the Eagles in the team standings, and held the fifth-score tiebreaker between the two schools.
But when her team needed her to come up big, Pancake did. She birdied the 18th hole, and when Bruch had a double bogey, the Eagles won their third-straight conference title, shooting a 307.
“I honestly had no idea where everyone was,” Pancake said. “Coach had asked me around hole 16 where I stood, so I had a feeling it was close, but I didn’t think about that, I just tried to play golf and see what happened. I bogeyed 17, and I knew it could come down to the wire, so I just tried to hit the best shots I could to finish strong.”
It was the end of a crazy four-day stretch for Pancake.
Over the weekend, she played in the American Junior Golf Association Championship in Greenville, S.C., and placed third overall, shooting a 3-under 213 for three rounds.
She drove back through the night Monday, getting in around midnight before getting up at 7 a.m. to get ready for the conference tournament.
“I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be,” Pancake said. “Luckily, I had coach with me to kind of keep me going. Making putts definitely made it more fun and helped me keep going.”
Zionsville head coach Steve Simmons said he was really proud of the way Pancake has handled everything.
“She was in the toughest junior field in the country, finishes solo third then got in a car and traveled back 12 hours last night,” Simmons said. “Annabelle has done everything she possibly can to help this team win this. I know this senior year means a lot to her and the team. She has a big goal of winning the individual state title, and to me if she plays the way she is capable of, she can do it.”
It is the second time Pancake won medalist honors at the HCC.
She also shot a 69 as a sophomore to win medalist honors. As she hits the stretch run of her high school career, she said she is happy with where she is with her game.
“It definitely feels really good to win it,” Pancake said. “I have always loved playing this course, it’s so much fun. I always enjoy playing with Westfield and playing with Jocelyn today was a lot of fun, especially in our last conference tournament. It was a good one to end on.”
The championship was the third-straight for the Eagles and was the third best score they have ever had on the course.
Simmons said it was a total team effort to get the win.
“I am really proud of all the girls,” Simmons said. “The best part for me today was seeing our No. 5 player come through when she needed to when she had never been there before, and all our other girls stepping up. Annabelle making the crucial plays down the stretch, and all our girls having key moments.”
Two years ago, a comeback against Westfield to win the HCC title was the springboard that helped push the Eagles to the state title.
Simmons said that he hopes Tuesday’s win can also lead to a big confidence boost with being able to beat the third-ranked Shamrocks for the first time this season.
“Westfield had won a few tournaments in a row and they are good top to bottom,” Simmons said. “Quite frankly we probably caught them on a day they didn’t quite have their best. We got a great score from Michelle at No. 5, and then Lauren and Annabelle too. When you are in a conference as tough as this, it just takes a swing here or there and that makes all the difference.”
Zionsville had two other all-HCC performers along with Pancake on Tuesday.
Junior Lauren Kaltenmark placed second overall with a 73, and senior Abby Thielbar shot an 80.
Both girls made the all-conference team for the second-straight season.
“Lauren plays pretty aggressively, and I think she is really close to breaking through,” Simmons said. “It’s a great round for her to shoot 73, but Lauren has the power to go even lower if she wants to.
Each team was allowed to play six golfers on Tuesday, with the top four scores counting toward the team score.
O’Brien shot an 85, with Megan Gray shooting an 87 and Amanda Krieger shooting a 94.
The Eagles were back in action on Saturday for the Hall of Fame Tournament at Purgatory Golf Club.
They placed third in the event with a 300.
Annabelle Pancake led the team with a 67 (-5) for second place overall.
Abby Thielbar was also in the top-10, shooting a 74 with Lauren Kaltenmark shooting a 75. Michelle O’Brien had an 84 and Megan Gray had an 85 for the Eagles.