Commodores Top Seed Going Into Final Day

Vandy in first at Hawk Classic

by Rod Williamson

MILLSBORO, Del. — Vanderbilt threw it into high gear and cruised past five opponents to easily grab the No. 1 seed at the Hawk Classic on Saturday.

The Commodores finished the 10 qualifying games 242 pins ahead of second-place North Carolina A&T in earning the top seed for the second consecutive tournament.

Vandy averaged 1,015 a match over the Millsboro Lanes, which gave many in the 18-team field fits. In the process the Dores defeated 16th-ranked Sacred Heart, St. Francis University, Mercyhurst, Wilmington and No. 11 Mount St. Mary’s.

The second-ranked Commodores used a fundamental recipe of a balanced rotation and solid spare shooting in the traditional game format. While they had their share of strikes, there were only two long runs during the afternoon – Mabel Cummins closed with eight in a row against Sacred Heart and Victoria Varano had the front eight against Mercyhurst.

“We came in today with a different game plan and it worked out well,” Vandy associate head coach Josie Barnes said. “We played the lanes differently and when we got immediate results the team trusted what we were doing. And once they start trusting, their spare percentage also goes up.”

Sacred Heart is one of the northeast’s premier programs so the opening match shaped up to be interesting. But the Commodores didn’t miss a makeable spare and got solid games by Cummins (231), Varano (224), Paige Peters (216) and Alyssa Ballard (212) to win easily 1,062-892.

Caroline Thesier had her moment in the day’s fourth outing against Wilmington, leading the team with a personal season-high 246. Varano spent most of the afternoon among the individual leaders with games of 224-215-264-169 and 201.

In defeating 11th-rated Mount St. Mary’s, Vanderbilt was led by Ballard at 223, followed closely by Cummins (216) and Varano and Peters with a pair of 201’s.

Varano finished in second place in the individual standings while Ballard was fifth, Cummins was sixth and Peters was 15th.

Vanderbilt will play North Carolina A&T in the opening match of the championship bracket Sunday, a best 4 of 7 Baker set with the winner getting an automatic berth in the title match.

Action can be followed on starting at 7:30 a.m. CT.