DEPTFORD, N.J. — Vanderbilt seemingly cloned its opening day consistency to once again go unbeaten Saturday, claiming the top seed heading into Sunday’s championship action at the Northeast Classic. Seeding is based upon total two-day pin fall in this 33-team field.
Vanderbilt will play 2-seeded McKendree in Sunday’s opening bracket game with the winner advancing to the championship game and the loser playing the winner of the Nebraska-Stephen F. Austin in a best-of-seven Baker semifinal match.
The Commodores, 10-0 for the tourney, breezed through its five traditional games, only having to hustle against No. 21 Sacred Heart (1,040-1,002) amidst easy wins against No. 15 Mount St. Mary’s, No. 10 Maryland-Eastern Shore, Long Island University and No. 24 Morgan State.
“There were some similarities to (Friday) but we threw more 9 counts today and had to grind it out a bit more,” Vandy head coach John Williamson said. “We plugged along and didn’t worry about others were doing. I liked our focus in that regard and credit our girls.”
Vandy’s familiar rotation of Alyssa Ballard, Victoria Varano, Paige Peters, Caroline Thesier and Mabel Cummins were consistent for three games before Amanda Naujokas came in for Peters in Game 4. Much like Friday, all the Commodores were dialed in, especially anchor Mabel Cummins, who strung together games of 226-227-224-213 and 228, which put her fifth individually in the field.
It is a testament to the team’s balance and consistency that aside from Cummins, no other Commodore was higher than 43rd individually and yet the team had the best total pin fall by over 100 pins.
Naujokas came in sizzling with an opening 213 before commanding the attention of the Bowlero Deptford crowd when she started with the front eight in Game 5. The Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, junior left a 4 pin in the ninth and went spare-strike in the 10th for a powerful 266.
“Amanda is always ready to go and we wanted to get her in the lineup,” Williamson said. “She really took advantage of her opportunity.”
Williamson reiterated that Vanderbilt lineups are not predetermined but take into account the pre-game warmups and who might appear to have the best looks on a given day.
Williamson liked his team’s focused reaction in the Sacred Heart match. The Pioneers had some long strike strings in the middle of the game and actually held a slight lead heading into the 10th frame. Strong finishes by Ballard, Peters and Cummins iced the victory.
Chloe Skurzynski of SFA won the individual chase with a 231.20 average. Cummins checked in at 223.60.
This year’s Northeast Classic has the second-largest fields in NCAA play and this year 14 of the top 15 teams in the country are competing.
Sunday’s play begins at 7:30 a.m. CT and will be streamed on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube site.