ORLANDO, Fla. — Vanderbilt snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, using a late rally to edge top-seeded Stephen F. Austin and take third place at the Destination Orlando tournament Sunday.
The thrilling win, which required a tiebreaking modified Baker against the Ladyjacks, capped a day in which Vandy lost its opener to Youngstown State and rebounded with a 4-1 victory over Duquesne in the semifinal.
Youngstown State went on to win the championship over Jacksonville State. The top four finishing teams in this 18-team event are members of the new Conference USA league.
The Stephen F. Austin consolation championship match merits some detail. Vanderbilt had used a rotation of Haley Lindley, Victoria Varano, Kailee Channell, Amanda Naujokas and Paige Peters since the beginning of the Duquesne match. This unit traded Baker wins with the streaky Jacks in the best-of-seven format, some games tight and others blowouts.
With their higher tournament seed, Stephen F. Austin had important lane choice in the seventh game, and it naturally chose the lane where it had amassed a powerful 267 just a few minutes before. The situation appeared dire when Channell missed her 10-pin conversion attempt in the eighth frame as the Jacks were finishing a four-strike run.
But the Commodores got a crucial strike from Naujokas, putting Peters on the line and staring at a situation where she needed to strike out for Vandy to win by a single pin. Anything less than a double and 9-count would result in defeat.
Peters, who narrowly missed Saturday’s individual championship, nailed the first two strikes. With the Stephen F. Austin team finished and huddling with their backs to the action, Peters missed her chance to win it outright but did knock down nine pins, knotting the game at 215-215 and the match score at 3.5 apiece. Four points are needed to win.
The roll-off (also called a modified Baker) consists of each member of the rotation bowling one frame. With the tension high, Lindley got the Dores off to a good start with a strike while Stephen F. Austin spared. Varano, Channell and Naujokas followed suit with strikes while a Stephen F. Austin open frame ended the drama. The modified Baker score was 126-85.
“A match like that last one helps build confidence moving forward, and you gain confidence that you can make big shots by actually having a tight match against a quality opponent,” associate head coach Josie Barnes said. “We told the girls to just focus on hitting the pocket [in the modified Baker] and thought if we did, we would like our chances. We hadn’t been hitting the pocket regularly the last couple games. We thought we were substantially better the last two days than we were on Friday; we have much to learn but I thought from a competing standpoint we did a very good job.”
Vanderbilt’s 4-2 loss to Youngstown State turned in the fourth game when it lost a 194-193 decision. Vandy’s lineup in that match was Lindley, Alyssa Ballard, Varano, Caroline Thesier and Peters.
The revised unit made quick work of Duquesne, losing only a 215-213 game to prevent a sweep.
Peters and Lindley were named to the all-tournament team based upon their individual finishes Saturday.
The Commodores will have two weeks before their next tournament, another trip to Wisconsin for the Ladyjack Classic. Vanderbilt will take a 21-6 won-loss mark into that event.