Still swinging
Butler's DeCola, Shingleton in golf regional

By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor

SUMMIT TWP The PIAA Western Regional has arrived and
Butler still has two golfers swinging.
Sophomore Marissa DeCola and senior Mara Shingleton are among those competing at Tom's Run in Blairsville today. The top eight advance to the state tournament Oct. 26-27 at Heritage Hills in
DeCola finished 20th in the state meet as a freshman last year and missed winning the WPIAL title by a single stroke this year. Shingleton is in the Western Regional for the first time.
"The experience last year should help because I know what to expect now," DeCola said. "Just concentrate on shooting the lowest score I can and move on."
DeCola has been taking golf lessons since she was 6. Shingleton didn't begin playing competitive golf until eighth grade.
"My game is worlds better than it was when I was a freshman," Shingleton said. "I remember not even being sure I'd make the team.
"I only pursued golf because the school had a team. If there wasn't a team, I'd be playing volleyball or basketball right now."
Shingleton not only made the team, she became the Golden Tornado's No. 1 girls golfer as as freshman. She held that position until last year, when DeCola came along.
"Marissa is so good," Shingleton said. "She's consistent and rarely makes a mistake. She and I have become great friends.
"It's nice to know that if I'm not on top of my game, she's there to make up for it."
DeCola averaged 36 for nine holes this season. Shingleton averaged 41. Seniors Taylor Schnur and Bre Salkeld, sophomores Rebecca Shakely and Tori Hesidence were also in
Butler's lineup.
The Tornado finished
11-2-1 as a team and reached the WPIAL team finals Monday, where they finished seventh. DeCola shot an 82 and Shingleton a 94.
Only in its fourth season,
Butler's girls golf team failed to win a match in its initial campaign. This year, the team posted a school-record low score of 167 against Ellwood City.
"We've had good golfers come through already,"
Butler coach Sarah Parker said. "Now we want to build numbers. A lot of girls in school don't think they're good enough to play and they can shoot in the 50s (for nine holes).
"Once they get on the course, they'll see they can compete."
Shingleton is looking at
Princeton, Penn State, California (Pa.), Kutztown and Franklin & Marshall College right now. She figures to land a golf scholarship.
DeCola's goal is to play golf at a Division I school. Jana Skiles (Purdue) and Arianna Rock (
Westminster) are former Butler golfers who moved on to play in college.
"I leave Marissa alone because she's been working with a private coach for years and I don't want to mess that up," Parker said. "Mara seems to know how to straighten her own game out and that's what makes great golfers.
"If I see one of them dipping a shoulder, something minor like that, I might say something. But, basically, they play their own game."
DeCola said putting and consistent play are the keys to her game. Her goals are simply to improve every year.
"Find a way to get to the state tournament and take your shot," she said. "That's how I approach it."
Like DeCola, Shingleton has been playing summer tour golf and treats the Western Regional like another tournament.
"It's a new experience, but Marissa's going to be out there and we'll be doing it together," Shingleton said. "I've gone from wondering if I'd make the team to being able to hold my own against girls from other states.
"Once I started developing muscle, I started believing I could have a future in this game."