RENO, Nev.- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore's women's bowling team earned a ninth place qualifying spot Wednesday after 24 games. UMES finished the second block of qualifying games stronger than the first. They tallied a total of 2,326 pins over the final 12 games, besting their first block score by 115 pins (2,211). Still it wasn't enough to move up the ladder higher than ninth place in the end. They totaled 4,537 pins, 30 pins out of eighth and 266 out of first place. 224 was the best game of the second block for UMES. Being the ninth seed, the Hawks would ironically draw Pikeville, the eight-seed in the opening round.
Not only was this a rematch of the championship final from 2013, won by UMES last season to claim their fifth national championship, but it would pit new head coach Kayla Bandy against her former school. Bandy bowled for the Bears, won a National Championship and then spent time as an assistant coach there before coming to UMES.
The Hawks started out hot in game one, going clean and tallying a 214 while shooting five spares and five strikes. They topped Pikeville by 38 pins, but more importantly took a 1-0 lead in the match.
The lead however was short lived.
Pikeville blasted the Hawks in the second game 237-153, at one point tossing five in a row and staying clean. UMES was the opposite, only throwing four strikes (three in the tenth) and opening four frames.
Game three was more of the same as the Bears won 201-167. The Hawks opened just twice, but only managed a pair of strikes, including one on the fill ball. Game four wasn't pretty for either team but in the end Pikeville took a commanding 3-1 lead in the match with a 194-163 win, capitalizing on just two UMES strikes.
The Hawks weren't done yet. Game five was dominant for UMES as they tossed four strikes in a row in frames six through nine and posted a solid 224, topping the Bears by 54 pins. They managed just a 170, opening in the crucial fifth and tenth frames.
The Hawk faithful thought momentum had swung in game six. The two collegiate bowling powerhouses went back and forth. They were within four pins of each other through the first two frames. Pikeville led by just two pins in the third frame and by just one in the fourth and fifth frames. In the sixth frame the match was tied at 100 each after both teams spared the seventh frame and UMES got nine on the first ball. They both spared the eighth frame as well and the Hawks had a one pin lead 118-117, both working on their spares. But in the ninth frame the ceiling fell on the Hawks. UMES opened, picking up just eight pins. The Bears took advantage and struck. In the tenth the Hawks opened again and got just nine pins. Pikeville went strike then eight to take the game 183-151 and the match 4-2.
UMES fell to the loser's portion of the double elimination bracket and took on the 16-seed Bellarmine in the second round.
That match left little doubt.
UMES took game one by 51 pins, 205-154, tossing a 'turkey' in frames four through six to solidify the win and take advantage of the Knights three open frames.
In game two the Knights came galloping back, taking advantage of the Hawks' opens, back-to-back in the sixth and seventh frames. UMES still shot 170 but Bellarmine had a double early and made spares when it counted to shoot a 180 and take the 10-pin win and tie the match at one game each.
UMES dominated game three, rattling off six strikes in a row in frames five through ten to shoot 246. The Knights posted a 162 and now trailed the Hawks 2-1.
Game four was a battle of attrition as each team wound up with three open frames. Luckily for UMES they struck in the seventh and eighth frames. They got nine-spare in the tenth to shoot 165. Bellarmine needed to strike out. They headed into the tenth with a 137. Their anchor struck on the first ball, but got a six-spare on the fill to finish with a 157 and UMES survived to take a 3-1 lead.
Game four was back and forth early as the two teams were separated by just one pin after four frames. The fifth frame was where the Hawks started to pull away. As they struck in the fifth and sixth frames, Bellarmine opened the same two frames. They would recover to shoot two spares and a triple the rest of the way but the damage was done and UMES would add three spares and two strikes in the tenth to win 206-192 and eliminate the Knights from the field.
Four teams were eliminated at the end of day one, leaving 12 left to bowl on Thursday. They included Bellarmine, Newman, fellow NCAA school Kutztown and the third-seed Webber International.
Action starts at 11:00 a.m. Thursday and live scoring and live video can be found at bowl.com. UMES will face another NCAA school in 13-seed Adrian. The loser of that match is eliminated and the winner will face the winner of Midland and No.1 seed Wichita State who lost to Pikeville in the second round.
Courtesy: Stan Bradley, UMES