March 19, 2011
SMYRNA - Four of the nation's top five rated teams will square off Sunday morning for the championship of the Columbia 300 Music City Classic.
Fairleigh Dickinson, Vanderbilt, Central Missouri and Nebraska finished atop the 20-team field and will comprise the championship bracket in the best-of-seven Baker games. FDU ended the two days of qualifying 118 pins ahead of the Commodores with Central in third and Nebraska finishing strong to edge Arkansas State for fourth.
Individually, powerful FDU had the top two individuals with Danielle McEwan winning and Joely Carrillo finishing second. Vanderbilt's Samantha Hesley was fifth and Brittni Hamilton was 10th.
FDU had the tourney's best won-loss mark at 11-1 with both Vanderbilt and Nebraska at 10-2, although the won-loss did not factor into the standings.
Vanderbilt began the day on fire and ended with a flurry but in-between the `Dores lost their groove, posting modest scores in losing to Kutztown and barely surviving a feisty St. Francis team. Its winning edge was provided by the heroics of anchor Hesley, who chipped in with two crucial strikes in the tenth to push her team over the top by a scant five pins. She came back in the next win over No. 10 rated Sacred Heart to finish with six straight bullseyes and a 255 effort.
"It was important that we worked hard in the ninth and tenth frames to put ourselves in position to win," Hesley said. "We wanted to put pressure on the other teams and they weren't quite able to respond."
Hesley said in the hair-raising win over St. Francis that she was under orders from Coach Williamson.
"Coach told me with fives frames to go that I was supposed to have fun and the team apparently over heard. Brittni started cracking jokes and then told me I was supposed to have fun the next 25 frames."
Ellen Morrison had a big finish on a Senior Weekend. She was inserted into the lineup after the escape from St. Francis and she responded with games of 200 and 235. In the 200, she actually started with five strikes, then regained momentum in the final game.
"It felt good to help my team when we needed it," Morrison said. "I didn't have a chance to warm-up but I been watching Brittni and I just based what I did from her. We got a huge boost from Sam and Brittni was her usual good lead-off. I thought we bowled well the last two games."
Hamilton was her usual outstanding self with the exception of one blip in the Kutztown loss. The junior All-American had half of her games being 223, 243 and 237.
In tomorrow's title show-down, FDU and Vanderbilt will have a rematch with the winner moving into the title game and the loser having to scrap it out to find its fate. Central Missouri will play Nebraska. All other teams will be competing as well for their ultimate positions in the tourney.
Play begins at 8:30, admission is free.
VU 1,077 Louisiana Tech 923
VU 957 Adelphi 927
Kutztown 898 VU 891
VU 952 St. Francis 947
VU 1,022 Sacred Heart 986
VU 1,069 Jackson State 902