Ballard Wins Individual Title

Vandy freshman leads Commodores to undefeated day at Ladyjack Classic

by Rod Williamson

KENOSHA, Wis. — Vanderbilt methodically worked its way through five opponents, including third-ranked Nebraska, to go unbeaten and holds down second place on the team leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final action at the Ladyjack Invitational.

McKendree leads the 14-team field based on total pin fall over two days of competition, 108 pins ahead of the Commodores. Vandy has a huge pin fall edge over the third-place team so it is almost assuredly going to play McKendree in the title match Sunday.

Saturday’s victories for the most part were not as dynamic as Friday’s assault on the program record-book, but there were still plenty of highlights.

The second-ranked Commodores dispatched Nebraska in the day’s finale 1,078-1,038 behind a balanced and steady lineup in which all five Dores scored between 195 and 235 pins. Junior Caroline Thesier started off with the front five and led the way with a 235 and freshman Alyssa Ballard concluded a spectacular day with a 225, overcoming back-to-back 7-10 splits in the process.

Ballard fashioned games of 231-249-200-268 and 225 and won the individual championship in a highly competitive field.

“Alyssa repeated first shots and executed about as good as one can,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “What was most impressive to me was we made a ball change after those 7-10’s and she trusted it. She basically went off the sheet after that; it was nice to see her composure, her trust – things you don’t necessarily see in a freshman. She didn’t let things phase her.”

Vanderbilt, now 9-1 over the two days, began its workday with a rousing 1,182-1,070 effort over Newman and proceeded to defeat Valparaiso, Wisconsin-Whitewater and Marion, respectively, before ending with the Huskers.  In the big opening win, Vandy’s only open came on a 7-10 split.

In the process it relied on its lineup of Mabel Cummins, Paige Peters, Thesier, Ballard and Victoria Varano for the most part. Peters lost her line midway through the day, giving way for appearances by Amanda Naujokas and Kaylee Hitt before reentering and finishing strong in the finale.

Vanderbilt’s spare shooting must be mentioned. Aside from splits, the Commodores had virtually no missed-makeable spare attempts. In the Nebraska game, for instance, Vandy had six split/opens but zero missed-makeable spares.

“We continued shooting spares well,” Williamson said, “although our level of execution with our first shots was not as crisp as it was yesterday.”

Sunday’s play, a modification from the original format, will include three, 5-game Baker sets and just one bracket game, which will be best four of seven. All are streamed on the Vanderbilt Athletic YouTube site beginning at 8:30 a.m.