RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Stephen F. Austin inched closer to the program's first national championship, posting a perfect 4-0 record at the 2015 NCAA Bowling Championships Friday. SFA closed out pool play with two more victories, then went 2-0 through the first two rounds of the double elimination bracket play as the overall number one seed.
After posting a 4-1 record through the opening day of pool play, SFA met up with rival Sam Houston to renew the Battle of the Piney Woods on an NCAA tournament stage. The Ladyjacks had three bowlers eclipse 200, led by a 247 from senior Chelsea King, as SFA toppled the Bearkats 1,059-1,000. Freshman Stephanie Schwartz bowled a 238 while sophomore Paige Kraushaar notched a 224.
The final match in pool play pitted SFA against third-seeded Arkansas State as the Ladyjacks continued to roll, defeating their Southland Bowling League rivals 1,058-957. Four different Ladyjacks bowled a 200 or better, led by Schwartz' 237 and Kraushaar's 231. Junior Danielle Lynn bowled a 223 with King adding a 213.
The win against the Red Wolves pushed SFA to 6-1 through pool play, earning the Ladyjacks the number one overall seed heading into the double elimination best-of-seven bracket play.
Fittingly, the first opponent SFA had to face in bracket play was the one team that defeated the Ladyjacks in pool play -- eighth-seeded Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks won the opener 207-200, followed by an SFA 221-201 victory. After falling to UWW 218-147, the Ladyjacks reeled off three consecutive wins, besting the Warhawks 238-188, 188-179 and 216-182 advancing to round two.
SFA then faced fourth-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in round two, opening up with 188-182 and 209-203 victories against the Knights. FDU responded with a 211-188 win in game three, then the two tied 225-225 in game four, giving the Ladyjacks the 2.5-1.5 lead. SFA took the fifth 185-178, followed by an FDU 211-188 victory in game six. Needing a tie or better to clinch the match, the Ladyjacks answered with a 224-188 win in game seven, leaving SFA atop the winners bracket after the second day of competition.
SFA now heads into Championship Saturday needing two more victories to clinch the first national championship in any sport. The Ladyjacks will get a bye in the opening round Saturday morning, awaiting the winner of the Wisconsin-Whitewater/Arkansas State match.