SMYRNA, Tenn. — Vanderbilt finished fourth in the 33-team field at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic on Sunday, a finish that left the Commodores shaking their heads and talking about the little things that kept them from what might have been.
McKendree defeated Stephen F. Austin 4-2 in the Baker format championship game as Arkansas State topped Vandy 4-1 in the consolation final. It was a bruising field with the top nine ranked teams and 19 of the top 25 programs in action.
The Commodores lost the day’s opening battle with SFA 4-3 before blowing out Maryland-Eastern Shore 4-0. The SFA match seemed to set the tone for the day.
A rotation of Mabel Cummins, Angelica Anthony, Samantha Gainor, Caroline Thesier and Paige Peters appeared to have the first Baker under control, getting four straight strikes in the middle frames. However, back-to-back opens including a missed-makeable gave the Ladyjacks the opening they needed to close strong and swipe a 213-202 win that would prove very costly.
Vanderbilt won Game 2 225-209, but SFA rattled off 19 strikes in 20 frames to win Games 3 and 4 with high altitude scores. Much like last month’s Stallings Invitational when Vandy fended off explosive charges, the Dores battled back with 254 and 223 scores to tie the match, only to start Game 7 with two split-opens in the first three frames.
They couldn’t recover and the loss meant they could not win the tournament.
“We missed spares and gave people the opportunity to win games,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said afterwards. “When you are trying to win four games against better teams, you can’t give away games – you can’t give teams extra outs and expect to win. Today we paid for it.”
Williamson was also referring to defeats by two-pins and a one-pin that were fatal in the consolation match with Arkansas State. Cummins, who made the all-tournament team, agreed in the assessment.
“When we were bowling well there were a couple of tough moments in the first game of our SFA match, where if we had been on top of it there wouldn’t even have been a seventh game,” Cummins said. “So there are some moments we can look back upon. A few mistakes in the Arkansas State match cost us – so close.”
It was Vanderbilt’s Senior Day and the Commodores honored Gainor (who will soon graduate with a master’s degree), Anthony and Angelique Dalesandro after play was completed.
The Commodores also announced the winner of the annual Stoddard Award, presented upon a vote of the team to the teammate that best embodies spirit and enthusiasm. That award went to junior Amelia Keifer who was visibly moved by the honor.
“I’m very appreciative of my team seeing all that I try to do for them,” Kiefer said, tears welling up. “I told all of them numerous times that I’m here for every single girl on the team and it’s nice to be recognized for that.”
Joining Cummins on the all-tournament team was Brooklyn Buchanan of Arkansas State, Lauren Tomaszewski of North Carolina A&T, Brooke Roberts of UMES and Carlene Beyer of SFA. Rebecca Hagerman of McKendree was the tournament Most Valuable Player.
Vanderbilt moves on and next week competes at the Southland Bowling League Championship in Harahan, Louisiana, where it will arrive as the defending champion.