KENOSHA, Wisc. — Vanderbilt capped a strike-dominated Ladyjack Classic on Sunday with a third-place finish, winning 2 of 3 matches against a diet of top three-ranked opposition. Nebraska beat McKendree to take the title.
The Commodores appeared to be at their fall best, defeating No. 3 Arkansas State twice in Baker bracket play by scores of 4-0 and 4-3 while losing to McKendree 4-0 in the semifinals.
It is ironic that Vanderbilt actually had its best pin counts of the day in defeat, averaging a hefty 222.5, but it ran into a buzz saw as the torrid Bearcats averaged 253 over the four games. As an example of the high-wire act, the Commodores started the third game of the McKendree dual by getting the front seven, only to lose 266-264.
“I thought it was a good day, played well every round and played at a high level all day,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “We ran into that buzz saw and it started to look that way in the consolation game with Arkansas State as they started off hot. We had a chance to win the second game and didn’t (losing 226-224 after a pair of split/opens) and I wondered if that would come back to haunt us but we responded with some big shots.”
Commodore fans took note of a new lineup rotation — one the coaches likely considered an experiment — in which Angelica Anthony and Mabel Cummins swapped places to outstanding results. Cummins slid up to leadoff and Anthony dropped back into the anchor.
The All-American Cummins blistered the Sheridan Lanes with 24 strikes in her 30 frames for an 80 percent strike pace while Anthony was not far off that, nailing bull’s eyes at a 62 percent clip.
“Baker play is all about combinations and I thought switching might be a reasonable thing to look at based on how they were warming up,” Williamson said. “It’s something Josie (associate head coach Barnes) and I have talked about trying. Sunday’s always tend to be higher scoring than Fridays and Saturdays so I thought we needed a better strike throwing lineup. It happened to work today.”
Williamson was quick to note that while that was the rotation Sunday, it is not necessarily one set in concrete.
“Our lineup was just how it worked today,” he said. “We put people in positions where we think they will succeed. That might be the way it is or it might be how it was today. We try not to have people set in a certain position. Our lineup today reflected what we thought on these conditions were our best striking possibilities. We have other strong strikers that will thrive in other conditions.”
Vandy’s initial rotation was Cummins, Samantha Gainor, Angelique Dalesandro, Peters and Anthony. Thesier came into the two-hole midway through and Jennifer Laredo got in late as the Dores searched for even more scoring punch. Freshman Kaylee Hitt was able to throw the last frame of the day with the victory on ice.
Williamson noted it is often difficult to beat a quality team three times in one tournament but that was the case here in downing Arkansas State, once on opening day and twice in Sunday’s bracket.
“We’ve proven to be pretty good at the best-of-sevens,” Williamson noted. “We were plus-300 for the day and that is what’s necessary in a sport where you can’t play defense. This was a day when you gave someone an opening they pounced on it.”
Vanderbilt concludes its fall season starting Friday at the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawk Classic.