A Dominant Day 2

Commodores go 4-1, beat pair of top-10 teams in Texas

by Rod Williamson

ARLINGTON, Texas — Vanderbilt used five steady games over 1,000 to win four of five matches and grabbed the second day lead at the Prairie View Invitational on Saturday.

With Mabel Cummins dominating play in the lead-off position, Vandy defeated Tulane, Prairie View, McKendree and Arkansas State, respectively, before losing a shootout to Sam Houston State in the afternoon finale. The Commodores lead second-place Nebraska by 171 pins heading into Sunday’s play.

“We were pretty consistent as a team and each match we seemed to have a different person carrying the load,” Vanderbilt associate head coach Josie Barnes said. “Mabel was good at the top and she set the tone.”

Vanderbilt’s recent experiment to front load its rotation continues to pay dividends. Cummins, the talented junior who has spent much of her college career in the anchor spot, has given the Dores its best lead-off punch in a decade when All-American Brittni Hamilton occupied the role.

“Mabel seems to come to life in the lead-off spot,” Barnes said. “It’s not that she wasn’t effective at anchor but she is so effective at the top that it’s hard not to put her there. She gives our team a lot of confidence.”

Mabel had games Saturday of 257-245-221-171-232, showing the way and taking some of the heat off her teammates.  She was second in individual play behind Lauren Tomaszewski of North Carolina A&T who averaged 232 on the day.

With Paige Peters moving into the 2-hole Saturday, Vandy was often playing from a lead as the New Jersey freshman had games of 242-189-222-206 and 201.

“We don’t claim to have things figured out yet,” Barnes says, “but I think the team has proven that we can move people around and they can be successful. It shows that we don’t have to stick to just one idea.”

Vandy used just five players in its primary rotation – Cummins, Peters, Samantha Gainor, Caroline Thesier and Angelica Anthony – with the exception of a pair of 10th frame fills until the last game when Angelique Dalesandro entered for Gainor and contributed a 241 to lead the way in the team’s only setback of the day. It was the second consecutive tournament in which Dalesandro has provided an impressive spark off the bench.

Thesier also had a hot hand, especially in the middle three games with back-to-back scores of 228-213 and 246.  Anthony was slow coming out of the gates but a ball change after the second game produced three good results.

Expected battles with No. 2 ranked McKendree and No. 6 Arkansas State, which often come down to the wire, didn’t materialize on these International Training and Research Center lanes. McKendree had nursed a slim early lead but Vandy pulled away late to sap the usual drama from this matchup. The score was 1,062-952.

The Arkansas State win was along the same lines, Vanderbilt closing strong to win 1,008-951.

The only setback came by a 1,076-1,038 decision to Sam Houston State. The Bearkats have earned a reputation of being able to go on lengthy strike strings at any given moment and they had one a few frames into this contest, nailing 10 bulls-eyes in a row at one point behind the sharp play of Hayley Connelly, Denise Blankenzee and Elise Chambers.

Vanderbilt will complete the event’s round-robin play at 8:30 a.m. Sunday against Southland foe Louisiana Tech before getting placed in a two-round Baker bracket that will determine the tournament champion.  The No. 1 seed will play the 4-seed and the 2 and 3-seeds will meet.

The winners will play for the title and the losing teams meet for third and fourth place.

All the play is being livestreamed by bowltv.com.