Just a week after one of the largest tournaments of the year at the Kutztown Invitational, many of the nation's top teams will be back at it again this weekend at the Prairie View A&M Invitational in Arlington, Texas.
Maryland-Eastern Shore, the winners at Kutztown, will try to make it two wins in a row and to do that, they'll likely need another strong weekend from junior right-hander Mariana Alvarado.Alvarado, who earned All-Tournament Team honors for her play in team games with a 211 average, was more impressive in Bakers. The anchor for the Hawks helped continue the streak of undefeated Baker games. UMES stands at 33-0 in the format this season and none were bigger than the last.
Alvarado threw three strikes in the 10th to give UMES a comeback win against No. 7 Wisconsin-Whitewater in the championship match. Alvarado's three strikes sealed the one-pin win 206-205 in the sixth game of the match and gave UMES not only their third consecutive win at the event (all three years Alvarado has bowled with UMES) but their fourth first-place finish this season.
The Hawks aren't the only team heading to Arlington coming off a victory. Top-ranked Arkansas State, idle last weekend, won its own tournament, the Mid-Winter Invitational, two weekends ago. Juior Stephaie Mims comes in with the hot hand for the Red Wolves, after averaging 214 two weeks ago in Jonesboro.
"Being able to win the tournament in Jonesboro is something special,” Arkansas State head coach Justin Kostick said. "I’m very proud of Stephanie for earning her first all-tournament honors in her career,” Kostick added. “She came through big for us."
Third-ranked Central Missouri hopes to come back from a fourth-place finish in Jonesboro a couple of weeks back.
Fourth-ranked Stephen F. Austin enters Arlington with a bit of momentum. While they finished fifth at Kutztown, the Ladyjacks won all three of their matches on the tournament's final day, beating Norfolk State, Valparaiso and North Carolina A&T.
Sixth-ranked Nebraska will try to get its first win since head coach Bill Straub was hospitalized for emergency surgery for an aortic dissection. Assistant coach Paul Klempa is the interim head coach.
"It’s been stressful, but we’re dealing with it one day at a time," Klempa said.
Meanwhile, No. 9 Kutztown heads to the Red Flash Invitational in Altoona, Pa. They'll be led by senior Brooke Bower, who led her team last weekend averaging 201.