Northeast Classic Champs

Commodores best McKendree for tournament title

by Rod Williamson

DEPTFORD, N.J. — Vanderbilt used four different rotations Sunday before striking gold with one that clicked on all cylinders and, as a result, won the Northeast Classic for the second time in three years.

The Commodores took down top-seeded McKendree in the championship match 4-2 to capture their second tournament of the season – this one coming in one of the strongest 18-team fields of the season.

The title was a roller-coaster ride for the Commodores who were lights-out in Friday’s play, sputtered at times Saturday and began Sunday with sub-par results in losing to McKendree. Trying to jump-start the team, Vandy coaches tried three different personnel combinations to no avail – but things changed with a fourth rotation shake-up in the semifinal match with Youngstown State.

Vandy went with Mabel Cummins, Angelica Anthony, Caroline Thesier, Angelique Dalesandro and put freshman Paige Peters in the anchor spot for the first time this season. Bingo!

The Commodores raced by the Penquins using long strike strings for a 4-1 win, setting up a quick rematch with the talented Bearcats. Averaging 27 more pins per Baker than in the morning’s first encounter, Vanderbilt won the last three games for the win.

“We weren’t having any real consistency with our early rotations so we thought Mabel and Angelica could help us bunch some early strikes,” Vandy head coach John Williamson explained. “We felt Caroline and Angelique would be steady in the middle and if we piled it up at the front we wouldn’t have to put too much pressure on Paige, although she came through like a veteran.

“Sometimes a change gives the game a different look, a different feel. We are still looking for identities with some on our team. We want our anchor, for example, to be someone that can quickly forget a mistake and Paige has such a background that she has the ability to shake off a bad result. She is a pretty savvy bowler.”

Peters, playing 60 miles from her hometown of Toms River, New Jersey, handled the anchor spot beautifully, burying 16 strikes in her 10 frames of the Youngstown match and cashing in with some big shots in the title match. Her efforts were acknowledged with tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Cummins, normally the anchor who has been used in the leadoff a few times, likewise was superb in her spot, striking 80 percent of the time against Youngstown and getting seven strikes in her 12 McKendree frames.

“When we’ve used Mabel at the top, she’s been very good,” Williamson said, admitting that the concept of leaving the junior All-American there is tempting. “It is a big boost to start games off on the right foot.”

Dalesandro had not seen much of the lanes during the tournament until being inserted into the 4-spot and the Illinois senior responded in spades, striking 50 percent of the time against Youngstown and continually making key shots against McKendree.

“Angelique and Caroline combined for a lot of doubles,” Williamson said. “That’s the benefit of having a deep roster. Angelique has bowled in many big moments and it’s not uncommon to see her produce. And I give her credit, as a senior she stays in the game whether she’s bowling or not and when she’s called upon, she’s always ready to go.”

High Baker scores always indicate everyone was clicking and that was pretty much the case in the last two matches. Vandy closed the Youngstown match with seven strikes in a row twice and six straight once.

It began the title match with another run of seven in route to an opening 256. While this was going on, there were just three missed-makeable spares in the last McKendree match and none against Youngstown.

The championship was the 42nd in program history and second of this season with the Dores having won the Dezy Strong during the fall campaign.

The Commodores return to campus for a short week before heading off to Arlington, Texas, for the Prairie View Invitational next Friday through Sunday.