WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Vanderbilt concluded a high-scoring Friday at the Hawk Classic in third place among the 18 competing teams, despite dropping three of its five Baker Matches.
The Commodores lost matches to Delaware State (1,177-1,137), St. Francis (1,053-999) and Sacred Heart (1,112-1,055) and defeated Monmouth (1,177-1,014) and Morgan State (1,178-915) on a day where soft lane conditions appeared to be an equalizer in the competition. Jacksonville State and Youngstown State led the way on the leaderboard.
“I thought for the most part we bowled pretty well,” head coach John Williamson said. “The conditions were soft and at times we were interrupting strike strings with 9-counts. We didn’t play our fourth Baker Games in the last two matches well and lost lane choice, which made a difference (the team that leads after four games get to select which lane it wants in the fifth game). The right lanes were scoring higher. I give St. Francis and Sacred Heart credit for making key shots.”
It seemed apparent from the opening ball that scoring would be high and competition keen. Delaware State, ranked 22nd, began Game 1 with eight straight strikes and followed that 266 game with scores of 234, 249 and 245, building a near insurmountable lead.
Vandy bounced back with the third-best Baker Game in program history, knocking down 1,177 pins against Monmouth and an hour later, topped that milestone by a single pin in defeating Morgan State. Two of the program’s best four Baker Games on record, back-to-back. The school mark is 1,232.
The Commodores were zeroed in on the far side of the Bowl America lanes but in moving to the other side for the fourth match they seemingly lost their line. The rotation of Haley Lindley, Amanda Naujokas, Caroline Thesier, Victoria Varano and Paige Peters began notching fewer strikes on an afternoon when spares usually lost ground to the strike blitz buzzing around in the building.
St. Francis capitalized on lane choice in its victory, topping Vandy by 44 pins in the fifth game to make an otherwise tight game appear comfortable. The same was true in the Sacred Heart match, where the Pioneers closed with six strikes and 224 while Vanderbilt struggled in with a 184.
Williamson agreed the Commodores converted spare shots much better than a week ago.
“When you are striking and 9-counting you are leaving easier spare chances, and your confidence level goes up,” he said.
Williamson noted the play of Lindley, who was impressive in the leadoff role once again.
“She had a couple of splits when we flipped ends of the house but other than that she was very good all day,” he added.
Competition resumes Saturday at 9:05 a.m. CT on BowlTV. Vanderbilt starts its slate of five traditional matches against Merrimack.