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posted: 8/24/2013 8:21 PM

Prospect's Scaccia, Walsh still take their best shots together

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  • Kiley Walsh, left, and teammate Ally Scaccia are leading Prospect's elite girls golf program this fall.

       Kiley Walsh, left, and teammate Ally Scaccia are leading Prospect's elite girls golf program this fall.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Kiley Walsh is following a proud tradition of girls golf excellence at Prospect.

       Kiley Walsh is following a proud tradition of girls golf excellence at Prospect.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Ally Scaccia is helping Prospect maintain its strong record of success in girls golf.

       Ally Scaccia is helping Prospect maintain its strong record of success in girls golf.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Ally Scaccia and Kiley Walsh met as basketball players.

Ally was the point guard, Kiley the shooting guard.

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That was back in the sixth grade, when they were members of the Prospect girls basketball feeder program.

Little did they know then that seven years later, instead of running an offense on the basketball court, they'd be running 15-footers for par on a golf course.

And doing it as well as anyone in the state.

Scaccia and Walsh have become two of the top golfers in the state for Prospect's girls golf team, which begins the season as the top contender for a second Class AA state crown in three years.

The Knights were second to New Trier by only 4 strokes last year in a rain-shortened one round final.

Prospect's dynamic duo have already shown their flare.

Scaccia carded a school record 69 on Tuesday in a dual meet with Loyola while in the same meet Walsh broke the school record for nine holes with a 32 on the back nine at the Mt Prospect Golf Course.

Not bad for two girls who didn't swing a golf club until they were ready to begin high school.

"Both girls are extremely fun to be around and positive people," said Prospect girls golf coach Jim Hamann, now in his ninth season. "They are excellent students and just an absolute joy to coach."

"They've played all over the country this summer," Hamann said. "Kiley was in California, Rhode Island, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana. Ally was in Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Wisconsin. They were all over the place. It just kind of showcases their skills to college coaches. Kiley, Ally and Noreen (Caporusso, who is currently sidelined after knee surgery last May) are all being recruited by Division I colleges."

Walsh, who has been on the varsity all four years, started the season by winning her second straight Conant Early Bird Invite by shooting a 71 at Fox Run Golf Club.

"Kiley has an abundance of experience," Hamann said. "She's probably played in more tournaments than any player on our team. She is definitely our strongest player on the course, mentally. She is very good at taking things one hole at a time and following the game plan. She is always a leader by example."

Scaccia, playing in her second meet of the season last Tuesday, produced the best 18 holes in Prospect history with a 69 at the Mt. Prospect Golf Club.

"Ally is the most improved player from freshman year to senior year that I have coached," Hamann said. "I don't think she even broke 50 her freshman year (averaged 53 for nine holes) and now she is trying to break par and being recruited by some awesome college programs. She has one of the best work ethics of anyone I have coached and that says a lot because I've had some great kids."

Ally Scaccia: So how did Ally Scaccia go from averaging 53 for nine holes as a freshman to setting the Prospect school record for 18 holes last week with a 69 against Loyola?

"I did not get discouraged as a freshman because I knew it was my first year playing the sport," Scaccia said.

Instead, she put countless hours of work into the game, taking lessons and learning everything she could to perfect her swing.

"Finally, in the summer going into my junior year, it just clicked," Scaccia said. "I was actually going to play volleyball my freshman year because that's what I had been playing at South Middle School. But my sister (Sarah, now a sophomore at Indiana) always told me how much she loved playing golf and what a great guy Mr. Hamann was."

You can trace Ally's success back to Sarah playing as a freshman.

"Sarah played basketball and softball and wanted to play a fall sport," Ally said. "She decided to try golf. So I wanted to do the same thing as a freshman."

Four years later she is doing it as well as anyone in the state.

"As a freshman, I wasn't really into it as I have been the last three years," Scaccia said. "I used to love basketball but once I started golfing I really fell in love it."

Scaccia said her favorite club is the 8-iron.

"I just feel like it I hit it solid every time," she said.

Scaccia's game has been solid all-around.

Kiley Walsh: When she was seven or eight years old, Kiley was sitting at the kitchen table eating her Cheerios before school.

Her father Pat remembers one morning when Kiley's oldest sister Melanie was getting ready to leave the house and said she was off to play the conference tournament for her school's golf team.

"Kiley stopped eating for a second and said , 'What, you're off to play golf again and don't have to go to school today?' " Pat said. "Kiley said, 'I'm going to have to try that golf one day.' "

And sure enough, about four years later, Kiley tried it and loved it.

Now she is one of the most dedicated golfers in Prospect history.

Her sister Allison was the state champion in 2011, the year the Knights won the Class AA state title.

"Being on the team with my sister was so much fun -- driving to practices with her an d getting to hang out with her," Walsh said. "That's when I was beginning to love golf. Prospect's golf program is easy for people who aren't incredible at first. It makes it easy to love the sport. Mr. Hamann has drills and practices for people shooting pars and for people who are just beginning."

Walsh, a National Honor Society student, calls the pitching wedge her favorite club.

"I've used it so many times every single round, for shorts chips and long chips," she said. "And it's super reliable."

Just like she and Scaccia have been for the Knights.

"I could never picture this happening back when Ally and I were playing basketball," said Kiley, who played basketball at Lincoln Middle School. "We actually played real well together and we wanted to be really big basketball players."

Instead, they became really big golfers.

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