The University of Maryland Eastern Shore found the value of patience during Saturday’s (April 6) NCAA Bowling Championship Opening Round matchup with Bowie State University.
The Hawks (75-44) led the Mega Match 1-0 after picking up an 865-750 win the in the traditional team game to open up the afternoon. But found themselves down 21 pins to the Bulldogs after two Baker games at Millsboro Lanes.
“I’m so proud of the girls and the patience that they showed,” Hawks coach Kayla Bandy said. “It was frustrating — obviously. But if we hadn’t had patience and trusted in our ability, the outcome would not have been what it was.”
That outcome was a 2-0 Mega-Match win and a spot in the next round of the Championship with just eight teams remaining.
They key was the third game, which the Hawks won 192-151 to grab a 20-pin advantage with three games remaining.
“I think, with this team, it’s really easy for us to rebound,” Senior Danielle August (Mililani, Hawaii) said. “The only thing is that to get the rebound we have to believe in ourselves and then show up. In that game, I felt like we doubled a lot more. Even though we didn’t get many strikes, we doubled twice and that’s big. Then when we were able to get close that’s when we were able to relax and just make shots.” Eastern Shore did just enough of that over the last two games to hold on for an 868-860 victory.
“Early on in the match, you can’t give your opponent that type of lead and not expect them to take advantage of it,” Bandy said. “All these teams in this part of the season, you have to show up and bowl. But, good things happened today and we qualified.” August led the way in traditional play bowling in the No. 4 spot with a 222, while Junior Brigitte Jacobs (Freeport, Illinois) was next with a 198 at anchor.
Most of the rest of the squad struggled mightily to find any kind of rhythm.
“I think part of the problem was that we were just trying to keep our heads above water,” Bandy said. “We were on a pattern where pointing it off the gutter and aiming at the head pin was more beneficial than actually trying to target. So I think that we were just trying to hit the head in and make our spare.
August proved to be one of the Hawks most consistent performers on Saturday despite struggling a bit to adjust to the pattern during Friday’s practice. She continued her strong play though the Baker match, where she steed at No. 4. She left just one open frame all day and put up six strikes in the decisive Baker match.
“I knew during the practice session yesterday it was going to be touchy,” August said. “I was able to get some shim today and really helped me out. Compared to yesterday, I just knew I had to come in here and make shots and as the oil broke down today, I had a little bit of miss room. I tried to do my best and take advantage of it keep it close and that way my makeables were a lot more — makeable.”
Freshman Chloe Skurzynski (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) and Isabel Hughes (Raleigh, North Carolina) along with sophomore Paulina Torres (Ponce, Puerto Rico) are the only Hawks who have not made the trip to the NCAA Championship before as each other member of the squad advanced to the Semifinals of the 2016-17 Championship In Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Both freshmen had their ups and downs against the Bulldogs, but each picked up more valuable experience in pressure situations and Skurzynski — one of the standouts of the previous weekend’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championships — said she was “fried” after gutting through a rough day.
“I just threw it awful all day,” Skurzynski said. “I don’t feel like I had more than two good shots on the day. But it’s fine because I was still able to be up there and contribute. I’m content with that.” Torres, didn’t have her best day either, but did hit a couple late spares after coming in the Baker match in a reserve role and was third on the Hawks in traditional play with a 169.
Cayla Hicks (Salem, Virginia) finished out the Baker Match with seven straight fills after opening on her first frame off the bench.
The return to the Championship for the Jacobs and classmate Hicks along with August and fellow seniors Alexandra Hernandez (Maracaibo, Venezuela) and Quianna Macares (Willemstad, Curacao) is a welcome one.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be able to go back,” August said. “After last year, it was kind of disappointing losing the MEAC Championship and you think that ‘Oh, that was my chance.’ To win MEACs and then come to the play in match and be successful is exciting.
“It’s something where you didn’t think you were going to get it and now you have it, so you just want to take it and run with it. You want to take advantage of whatever you can get out of it.” The eight-team bracket will be double elimination Mega Match format. The Hawks will face No. 2 seed McKendree on Thursday (April 11) beginning at 9 a.m. to open play.
~MDES Sports Information