Commodores Struggle on First Day in Smyrna

by Rod Williamson

SMYRNA, TENN. — For the second week in a row, Vanderbilt dug itself into a deep hole on the first day of a tournament, this time as a host of the 17th annual Columbia 300 Music City Classic.

The Commodores struggled through a discouraging day of one win against four defeats and, at least for the short term, the bigger problem is the meager pin count they accumulated in that effort. Vanderbilt is in 14th place in the 19-team field after averaging a meager 179.2 pins per Baker match, far off the pace set by first place McKendree, which averaged 210.

“It’s a bad time of the year to not be very good at Baker,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “That’s the one thing that’s been consistent the last two weeks. We haven’t been very good. We have to figure out how to capitalize on other team’s mistakes and not open the door.

“Today we started off on the wrong part of the lane and that’s on us coaches to insure we’re playing the proper side of the lane to start. We were too far right and that made the girls feel as though they had to be perfect. We carried a sense of anxiety the whole day. We never really got comfortable although we settled in a little bit in the Nebraska match.”

Vanderbilt’s tough day began being upset by Alabama State, 931-874, and it got worse in the second match, bowing to Maryville 905-788. The Commodores slipped to 0-3 after losing to Central Missouri before winning their only match of the day against Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The day ended with a loss to Nebraska that was a bit closer than the final margin indicated.

Among Vandy’s issues Friday were poor spare shooting and troublesome first-ball efforts that far too often left splits or awkward spare attempts.

Saturday’s schedule has five team games on tap, starting at 9:30.

“I think we can make a run of trying to finish fourth tomorrow,” Williamson said.  The top four teams will have a chance to win the tournament in best-of-seven Bakers Sunday while the others are playing for final position and their won-loss marks.

Cummins Captures Bowler of the Month Honor

Vanderbilt sophomore Mabel Cummins was named the Southland Bowling League Bowler of the Month for February, the league announced Friday.

Cummins completed a pair of top-10 individual finishes for the Commodores throughout the month of February, pushing her squad to a team title at the Bulldog Classic (Feb. 12-13) and a fourth-place finish at the Big Red Invitational (Feb. 26-28).

In her two February appearances, Cummins recorded 118 strikes to rank second in the league with a 59-percent strike average. The monthly honor marks the first of her career.

Cummins captured Most Valuable Player honors at the Bulldog Classic to open the month of February for the Commodores and earned her fourth all-tournament nod of the season along the way. She followed up with a strong showing at the Big Red Invite where she averaged 226 after ranking among the top four throughout the entirety of the event up to the final game.