DEPTFORD, N.J — Vanderbilt slogged through a tough day but closed strong to grab the second seed at the Northeast Classic Saturday.
Despite losing four of their five traditional games, the Commodores’ pin count over the two days was enough to push them into Sunday’s lead-off match with top-seeded McKendree in a best-of-seven Baker series with the winning team advancing automatically into the title game.
After dropping successive games to Youngstown State, Duquesne, Long Island University and Maryland-Eastern Shore, Vandy rebounded with its best game of the day and dropped Delaware State to hang onto the two-seed.
“We could never find a rhythm,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “We would get seem to get three or four bowlers scoring but had a difficult time getting all five at once – and it was always someone different. That said, I was proud of our girls for not getting frustrated and giving in, especially while several of our opponents were scoring their best game of the tournament.”
It was a puzzling day for the Commodores, who were red-hot Friday and led this talented 18-team field by 69 pins heading into today’s action. Williamson said that across the board, Saturday’s pin counts were higher than opening day but not for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores used several lineup combinations with mixed results but found one that worked well in the finale. Mabel Cummins moved into the lead-off spot, followed by freshmen Kaylee Hitt and Kailee Channel, Angelique Dalesandro in the four-hole and Paige Peters, another freshman, anchoring.
Led by Peters’ 255 and solid games from Cummins (220) and Dalesandro (221), Vandy topped Delaware State 1,087-974.
“I’ve mentioned before that we really rely on a lot of relatively inexperienced people in terms of the college game,” Williamson said. “I don’t know if sleeping overnight on the lead – something we haven’t done in quite a while – messed with our heads but we continue to learn and compete.”
The four teams with a shot at winning the championship are a formidable bunch on the national stage. McKendree is ranked second nationally, Vandy is fifth, Youngstown State is eighth and Sam Houston State – the four seed – is ranked No. 1 in the latest poll.
The Commodores will start best of seven Baker bracket play at 7:30 a.m. CT Sunday with play streamed on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube site.