RIPON — Overconfidence wasn't an issue for Presli Pilati, not after Escalon High's junior opened the Valley Foothill League North Tournament with a double-bogey.
"The very first hole, I hit my ball into the sand and ended up shooting a six," Pilati said. "We figured each hole would play one over, though, so I told myself I shot 1-over."
With that extra bit of confidence, Pilati stuck to her plan and finished with an 87 to win the title and lead the Cougars to their first-ever league title.
"We went 12-0 in the league, 15-0 overall and today we won the league tournament, that's quite a run," Escalon coach Rusty Fachner said. "This is our first undefeated season."
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Pilati spearheaded the Cougars' effort, she also was the only golfer to break 100, but it was her teammates' play that delivered the tourney title.
Samantha Luque (104), Jennifer Schmidt (110) and Parker Pilati (112) — Presli's freshman sister — combined to give Escalon a total of 413 during a wet, difficult round at Spring Creek Country Club.
"We play our matches at Escalon, a short course, so coming to a long course like this means we have to change our play," said Presli Pilati, third at the VFL Tournament last fall. "We were using drivers and 3-woods to get that extra distance that we needed."
Swinging for greater distance, however, carries risks.
"If you don't hit it right, the driver can fade or slice, leaving you in trouble," she said.
The nine-hole, par-31 Escalon course is 1,520 yards and very forgiving. Spring Creek is an 18-hole, par-73 that plays at 5,656 yards — and makes golfers pay for every mistake.
Pilati shot par on six holes and leads the Cougars into next week's Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Tournament at Stevinson Ranch. They'll be joined by Bret Harte and Calaveras, and six individuals.
Bee staff writer Rich Estrada can be reached at 578-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.