SMYRNA, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt's shamrock green shirts did not furnish quite as much luck of the Irish as needed to win the Columbia 300 Music City Classic championship but perhaps they did give a needed boost to an upset of No. 1 Nebraska in the consolation final.
It was the first time this long season that the Commodores had topped the Big Red and the 4-1 conquest earned them third place in the 29-team event. Maryland-Eastern Shore took care of Arkansas State to win the traditional crystal pin first place trophy.
Most insiders believe Vanderbilt will hear its name called March 27 when the NCAA Committee announces the eight team NCAA championship field. Indeed, Vandy was dominant much of this three-day tournament in compiling an 11-3 record. Two of those losses came today at the hands of UMES and Arkansas State before rebounding with the nice closing win.
"On the whole, we had a good tournament," said Coach John Williamson, perhaps remembering last year's disappointing 10th place finish. "We had some very good moments. I've said all along that as a team we are very young and improving but sometimes inexperience can show at the elite level where games can be won or lost with one throw of the ball."
The all-tournament team consisted of Kelly Daunno (New Jersey City), Kristina Terpo (St. Francis (NY), Liz Kuhlkin (Nebraska), Anngie Ramirez (UMES), Michelle Secours (Sam Houston) and the Most Outstanding Bowler, Natalie Jiminez (Central Missouri), who averaged 227.3. Jessica Earnest was Vanderbilt's top individual, placing eighth with a 215.2 average over six team games.
Vanderbilt honored its four graduating seniors - Courtney Morgan, Sarah O'Brien, Kim Carper and Jessica Earnest and announced that Carper had won a team vote for the coveted Harry Stoddard Award, given to the Commodore that best exemplified the late general manager's commitment to excellence, integrity and positive thinking.
This is the final regular season tournament of the year as teams await the NCAA selection announcement. The NCAA Championship will be in Detroit in mid-April.
Vanderbilt Game Capsules
UMES 4 VU 3
Wearing shamrock green shirts in honor of St. Patrick's Day, the Commodores used a rotation of Natalie Goodman, Amanda Fry, Nicole Mosesso, Robyn Renslow and Jessica Earnest. Twice Tori Ferris was subbed to attempt spare conversions that would have been harder for left-handers.
Game 1: VU, 226-199. Vandy started with front four and stayed clean.
Game 2: UMES, 213-186 A pair of opens in the sixth and seventh cracked the door for the Hawks
Game 3: VU, 247-231 The best played game of the set, VU getting six in a row from the fifth to 10th whle a UMES spare in the ninth snapped its four-bagger.
Game 4: UMES, 202-196. The most tense game that came down to the anchors. Vandy could have won with a first strike but settled for a spare while the Hawk anchor rolled a pair of strikes. In retrospect, this was the key game.
Game 5: VU 192-176. VU led most of the way but the Hawk's anchor could have pulled it out by striking out but was unable to do so.
Game 6: UMES 205-169. Opens in the fourth and seventh allowed UMES to win without too much pressure.
Game 7: UMES 252-174. UMES began with a turkey while VU opened in second and third.
Note: All seven games were won on the right side lane (6). UMES had lane choice in the deciding game based on its higher seed.
Arkansas State 4 VU 2
Arkansas State has been a thorn in Vandy's side much of the year and today was no different.
Game 1: Commodores jump out early and coast home for a quick win.
Game 2: Arkansas State wins in a mirror image game, getting a 5-bagger in the process.
Game 3: Vandy gets six strikes in first seven frames.
Game 4: Tori Ferris gets subbed early for a spare conversion. Two opens and few strikes for VU.
Game 5: The left lane had won the first four but splits and erratic play allow ASU to win on right lane.
Game 6: ASU overcomes two opens with closing six strikes, even though VU bowled clean.
VU 4 Nebraska 2
Game 1: VU bowls clean and Big Red can muster just two strikes
Game 2: Another instance of a mirror image game, this one favors Nebraska.
Game 3:Vandy gets seven strikes in eight tries to win a high scoring game.
Game 4: Two late `Dores gaffes open gate for Big Red to steal a win.
Game 5: Husker anchor struck out to make it look closer than it felt.
Game 6: Vandy takes advantage of NU opens.