Conference Championship On Deck

The Commodores enter the weekend with the No. 1 seed

by Rod Williamson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt opens play in the Southland Bowling League Championship Friday outside of Dallas at the Rowlett Bowl-a-Rama, Rowlett, Texas.  The Commodores have the No. 1 seed and face No. 8 Valparaiso.


8:30 a.m. Round 1   Vanderbilt vs Valparaiso
1:30 p.m. Round 2

8:30    Round 3
1:30     Round 4

8:00    Round 5
TBD    Championship Match

  • An “if necessary” match could be scheduled should the unbeaten team in the title match lose to the team with one loss since this is a double elimination format.

The SBL is a double-elimination tournament using a best-of-three match format commonly called a mega-match. This is the system used at the NCAA Championship and not how regular-season matches were determined.

  • Match 1: Five-person traditional team match
  • Match 2: 5-game Baker using total pin fall
  • Match 3: Best-of-seven Baker match play (Only if teams split first two matches)

Teams will first play a traditional team game followed by a 5-game, total pin Baker game. Should one team win both, the match is over. If they split, a best-of-seven Baker is played to determine the winner.


The championship will be streamed live by Inside Bowling with Mike Flanagan and Dave LaMont providing live commentary. Matches can be viewed live HERE. Inside Bowling may not stream every match at the tournament, and in that event, Vanderbilt will stream on the Vanderbilt Athletic YouTube site.


With the conclusion of this championship, the Southland Bowling League will be no more. Much is owed to the Southland by the bowling community.

The SBL was formed eight years ago, spurred by Southland members Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. The Southland took bowling seriously, hosting first class championships and sponsoring various student-athlete awards. The SBL quicky became the dominant bowling league in the NCAA, annually producing national championship contending teams.

National conference realignment left the Southland with no fulltime members sponsoring bowling, potentially leaving the great collection of schools without a sponsor.  The good people at Southland, recognizing the predicament, agreed to sponsor the league this year even without any full-time league members and helped orchestrate a smooth transition to Conference USA. The NCAA recently announced a waiver has been approved to allow Conference USA to take over the Southland’s sponsorship of women’s bowling in the next academic year (2023-2024) while also keeping the NCAA automatic qualifier intact. Conference USA will have three full members (Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State) that sponsor women’s bowling.  A representative from C-USA will be in Rowlett.


There is tremendous talent and balance in the SBL. A look at the last NTCA poll shows Vanderbilt 2, Arkansas State 4, SFA 5, Youngstown State 6, Sam Houston 9, Louisiana Tech 11 and Tulane 22.


The Commodores swept Youngstown State in the championship match, winning narrowly in the team game and easily in the baker. Vandy went through the tournament unscathed.

Mabel Cummins repeated as the tournament Most Valuable Player and Amanda Naujokas was named to the all-tournament team.


Vanderbilt has won four of the seven conference championships: 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022. Arkansas State won in 2016 and 2018 while Sam Houston topped Vandy in 2019. There was no championship held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Vanderbilt dominated the competitive conference’s final regular season statistics. The Commodores led the SBL in overall team scoring, frame fill percentage, all spare shooting categories, lowest split leave percentage and baker 10th frame doubles.

Individually, Mabel Cummins led 21 of the 30 official stat categories including the significant Player Composite Performance Index (PCPI). Other Dores were prominent in the various Top 15 rankings; Alyssa Ballard appeared in 17 categories, for example.  The official statistics are attached to this post.


Last week’s nine victories pushed Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson’s career victory total to 1,502.  Associate head coach Josie Barnes has played a major role in most of those wins as a player and coach for all but the first two years of that 19-season ride. That first year was a doozie; playing with a club team of students already on campus since the sport was added before recruiting occurred produced a 12-69 won-loss record. Just three years into the program, with Barnes as a freshman, Vandy won the national championship.