APOPKA, Fla. --- Vanderbilt registered just the second perfect Baker game in NCAA Women's Bowling Tournament history Thursday, helping the Commodores to a third seed heading into Friday's double-elimination competition.
"It was the most nervous and most exciting moment I've had in bowling," said sophomore Mandy Keily, who rolled the fourth and ninth frames. "I had a 300 game five years ago and this was much more nerve-wracking because in the ninth I knew I had eight teammates and two coaches behind me and I wanted it for them and our school. When I let the ball go my hand was shaking but it felt good all the way."
Josie Earnest, who closed out the 300 with three solid strikes, also felt some heat.
"I wasn't so nervous on the first two balls because I knew I had to get them in order for the last ball to be important," she reasoned. "We were just trying to stay loose during the game. In fact, before the game we said we would call each strike by a different adjective and said we would need 12 adjectives -- and we did!"
"We had been gaining momentum during the afternoon," he said, noting that prior to this game his squad had bested their season high Baker series total by 51 pins. `We got some breaks in that 300 game but when you have a perfect game you usually do need to catch a break. I was pleased all afternoon with our consistency and nearly flawless execution of our spare conversions."
Karen Grygiel, who bowled the third and eighth frames on the 300 effort, also noted any pressure came from trying to please her teammates.
"We were trying to have fun, to stay loose," Grygiel said. "We were all making good shots and playing off each other. I felt a little pressure by the eighth frame because I wanted to have it for our team."
The big game help jump the Commodores from a fifth place spot during the day's intermission into third in the official bracket. Vanderbilt will face sixth-seeded Sacred Heart in its first game Friday morning. The tournament uses a double-elimination system with a Baker game (rotating) format.
Earnest led Vanderbilt during the team game qualifying, placing sixth, while Grygiel was right behind in seventh position. Since the tournament is in a Baker format, the individual standings do not factor into tournament other than an indication of how players performed.
In the day's first team game, Earnest led the way with a 257 that included six straight strikes. Grygiel was also strong with a 235 and Peloquin broke 200 with a 214. Thankfully for the Commodores, qualifying relies on total pins over the day and not head-to-head match-ups as Central Missouri State not only rolled an eye-opening 1,102 - it finished the game with each of the five bowlers striking out, 15 straight strikes!
In the second team game, The `Dores received a big boost from Grygiel. The Brick, N.J. sophomore began with eight consecutive strikes en route to a 262 game. Kane improved from an opening 182 to a 225 and Earnest recovered from two open frames to start the game to hit 202. Grygiel's score was the highest for any team in the second set of games.
Once again, the team paired with the Commodores went wild. This time it was Maryland-Eastern Shore, which combined for a 1,111.
In team game three, VU stayed consistent with a 1,007 score. Earnest at 238 and Kane went 229. Grygiel, coming off two outstanding efforts, fouled on her first ball and that was foreshadowing for a sub-par 161.
Just prior to the afternoon Baker game matches, the Commodores saw four players post plus-200 scores in a steady effort while paired with New Jersey City. Interesting, on the lanes adjacent to this qualifying, Fairleigh Dickinson University ran up an amazing 1,202 score - over a 240 per person average. FDU had two players bidding for 300 games into the tenth frame, but neither was able to close the deal.
The afternoon Baker game began unsteady. The Commodores had a high of just 211 in five games in which they totaled 951. However, things took a sharp turn upward in the next game.
With five games over 240, the Black and Gold rolled an 1,156 total - 51 pins better than their season high.
"We didn't miss a single makeable spar in those five games," said Coach John Williamson, "and we only had three open frames the entire game."
That set of games put the Commodores on a upbeat course with the perfect game soon to follow.
Team Game 1 Michelle Peloquin 214 Mandy Keily 168 Karen Grygiel 235 Tara Kane 182 Josie Earnest 257 Total 1056 (Central Missouri rolls 1102)
Team Game 2 Peloquin 162 Kaitlin Reynolds 156 Grygiel 262 Kane 225 Earnest 202 Total 1007 (UMES rolls 1111)
Team Game 3 Peloquin 187 Keily 192 Grygiel 161 Kane 229 Earnest 238 Total 1007 (Sacred Heart rolls 1029)
Team Game 4 Peloquin 223 Kane 179 Grygiel 223 Kane 200 Earnest 203 Total 1028 (New Jersey City rolls 1020)
Baker Game 1 157 198 211 187 198 951 total
Baker Game 2 256 211 199 244 246
Baker Game 3 219 171 300 209 162 1,061 total
Position Round (vs No. 4 Central Mo.) 192 234 223 206 199 TOTAL 1,054