NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first and second rounds of the NCAA Bowling Championship passed by without the usual tension for Vanderbilt as the Commodores swept by Mount St. Mary’s and Medaille, respectively, by wide margins.
By advancing unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament, Vanderbilt won’t play until 3 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Nebraska-Medaille rematch in the morning’s loser’s bracket.
It was a day when very little went wrong for the youthful Commodores who spent much of the day playing with five newcomers to the NCAA Tournament but looking anything but star-struck. Vandy was crisp from the git-go, closing spares and riding the red-hot left-arm of Jennifer Loredo who started her day with a 236 and later added a potent 266 and maintaining that pace in Baker play.
“We were able to get settled in early in both matches and that took some of the pressure off us,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “We are not focusing on our opponent. There is no defense in this sport so we focus on what we can control. Today we controlled the pocket and made spares. When we control the pocket we put up strings of strikes.”
Loredo made a big impression in her tournament debut.
“She is a dynamic player,” Williamson said. “She has worked very hard on her game and she can do things that very few others can do.”
Loredo was by no means a one-woman show. Fellow freshman Amanda Naujokas got into the fray early and not only acquitted herself impressively in the Bakers but crafted a solid 238 of her own against Medaille who upset region top-seed Nebraska in the first round. The Vandy freshmen seemed unfazed by the surroundings.
“We just drilled that ball and I had a really good look,” Loredo said. “The whole week leading up to this I was jittery but I settled down once I got here. And it’s easy when everyone else is doing so good.”
Added Naujokas: “Actually I wasn’t that nervous. I was confident in the team’s ability. I had a pretty good look and so did everyone else so the confidence carried us. We’ve been practicing really hard, we are ready. I stayed in the same spot all day, didn’t move once.”
What a start for the lefty. 💪
— Vanderbilt Bowling (@VandyBowling) April 7, 2021
The Mavericks, champions of the Allegheny Mountain Conference, were no match for the torrid Commodores. When starters Angelica Anthony and Samantha Gainor cooled off in the first portion of the Medaille team game, Vandy inserted Angelique Dalesandro and Caroline Thesier and the two each chipped in with six strikes in about a half of a game.
Dalesandro came in the sixth frame of the Medaille match and threw strike-spare and went off the sheet with five in a row.
“I knew I had a really good look from practice so I knew where I wanted to be,” Dalesandro said. “It just happened to be the right part of the lane. I just threw the ball and with Jenn and Amanda leading the way it was easy for me.”
Among the Vandy strengths on opening day was consistency. The Dores had team game scores of 1,040 and 1,073 and 5-Game Baker sets of 1,045 and 1,055. The big scores and wide margins of victory essentially gave Commodore anchor Mabel Cummins an easier ride, never once having to double or strike out to save a game.
“Winning is fun and it was definitely a lot of fun,” the sophomore star said. “We were able to put some shots together early so we could start well. It allowed everyone to have a looser swing. We knew from yesterday’s practice that we had good looks. With the amount of work we’ve put in there had to be a day when we showed what we could do — this was Vanderbilt bowling.”
Cummins noted that while the 48-lane AMF Pro Lanes were typically noisy and upsets and near-upsets were happening around them, the Commodores did a good job of staying focused on their own game.
Other teams sitting at 2-0 after the first day include Youngstown State and Arkansas State — fellow members of the Southland Bowling League – and McKendree.