JONESBORO, Ark. – Powered by Jessica Earnest’s second-place individual finish, Vanderbilt moved up the leaderboard one notch and finished Saturday in second place at the Mid-Winter Classic with one day of competition remaining.
The Commodores won three games while dropping two traditional team games while nearly all eyes were on pin count, which established the pecking order for Sunday’s Baker game bracket. Host Arkansas State has led the tournament nearly wire-to-wire and was one of Vanderbilt’s two Saturday losses.
|MID-WINTER CLASSIC TEAM LEADERS|
|5||Sam Houston State||9,491|
|Complete Results: Team | Individual|
The Commodores will get a quick rematch with the Red Wolves as the two top seeds will square off in the first game of the championship bracket Sunday. Central Missouri and Nebraska are the 3-4 seeds in the title bracket.
Once again the Dores got off to a sluggish start Saturday, losing to a top-rated Valparaiso team that struggled Friday. The difference boiled down to a strong Crusader finish while the Black and Gold sputtered in the decisive ninth frame.
“We had five missed makeable spares against Valpo,” coach John Williamson said. “But we cleaned it up after that and only had five missed makeables the rest of the day.”
Rebounding nicely, Vandy won a spirited game with Alabama A&M, then topping Stephen F. Austin and Central Missouri before ending the day with the loss to Arkansas State. In the showdown of the two top pin fall teams, Vanderbilt started out red-hot but was its lead erode in the latter frames.
“We caught some breaks at the beginning that we didn’t get at the end,” Williamson said. “Arkansas State had about the reverse.”
Earnest crafted consecutive games of 204-244-214-223-221 to get her spring semester off to a rousing start. She finished second in individual standings to Amanda Labossiere of Arkansas State, who averaged a torrid 239. Vanderbilt All-American Brittni Hamilton finished sixth with her 205.6 average.
“Jess had a very consistent day,” Williamson said. “The thing I liked the best was when she had a little bit of adversity she adjusted quickly, shook it off and as a result any trouble was contained to a frame or two at most.”
Freshman Nicole Mosesso was in the original starting lineup, responding with a 225 game against Valparaiso but Williamson feared she was tiring and thinking ahead to the decisive day, chose the cautious route and sat her down after three games.