By Joseph Sciancalepore
The Sacred Heart women’s bowling team go into their last two meets before the Northeast Conference (NEC) playoffs with the 2020 NEC regular season title, and the top seed for the conference tournament. The Pioneers went 3-0 in NEC Meet #3 in Stratford, N.J., finishing the NEC regular season 13-5, 52-33 overall.
Junior Rebecca Armand and first-year Amanda Shelters believe that being more like a team off the lanes will help them on the lanes for this last stretch of meets.
“We’ve been working more on being bonded off the lanes, being more supportive, and communicating with one another makes us a better team on the lanes,” said Armand.
Shelters added that bonding off the lanes is an important part of helping the energy build during the meets.
“It’s an individual sport that was forced into a team sport,” said Armand. “Even though one person bowls at a time, the whole team has to be invested, so that’s why it’s so important to be supportive of one another.”
Head coach Becky Kregling is in her 25th season at Sacred Heart, and highlights how the team has been improving throughout the season.
“As the season has gone on, the team has been getting better and better. Having the Bobby Valentine Center allows us to work on our spares and different patterns that help us be successful for the remainder of the season,” said Kregling.
There were a couple of matches at the NEC Meet #3 that the Pioneers won by one pin, as well as matches that went to the final game seven. Kregling describes what the team could do to be more consistent, and make sure games are not decided in the final frame.
“We always talk about executing and just being more consistent,” said Kregling. “As long as everyone is throwing the ball well, getting crucial spares, and repeating shots, we are a very strong team that can win games more comfortably.”
Defending their 2019 NEC tournament championship this year as the top seed, senior Rebecca Bamford understands how special this year’s conference tournament is.
“I’m excited to defend the title this year, and hopefully win back-to-back titles because no one has ever gone back-to-back before,” said Bamford.
Kregling adds that she feels that there is no added pressure because the team set goals beyond winning the conference tournament. The Pioneers have their sights set on making the regionals in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2019, the Pioneers reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, before being eliminated after losses against the University of Nebraska and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
This year, the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship will have a slightly different style compared to years prior. According to the Detroit Mercy Titans, the host of the tournament website, there is technically no Elite Eight. Rather, it will be a 16-team double elimination tournament with four different regional sites with the regional winners meeting in Detroit, Mich. for the finals.
“Every team has their good days and bad days. I feel that on our good days we are borderline unstoppable, and on our bad days we can be beaten just like any other team,” said Armand. “As long as we are mentally, emotionally, and physically strong together, I think it’s more than likely that we can make it far.”
The bowlers competed over the weekend of Mar. 6–8 in Smyrna, Tenn., at the Music City 300 meet. According to Sacred Heart Athletics, the team went 3-1 in a traditional match on the second day. For the weekend the Pioneers went 7-2 and are one of eight teams with seven victories.