Saturday, May 27, 2017

The 2017 USBC Queens

Last week, we had our first Major of the 2017 PWBA season - The USBC Queens in Baton Rouge, LA.

This week I was lucky enough to be joined with my hubby Drew and my in-laws. I always love having support at the tournaments! Prior to the start of the event, we did some sightseeing. We visited Oak Alley Plantation, Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tour, walked around New Orleans and went on a jazz dinner cruise on the steamboat Natchez along the Mississippi River.

This week, we competed on a 41' pattern using fire oil.

The format for the Queens consists of three 5-game blocks of qualifying. The field is then cut to the top 63 bowlers plus last year's champion Bernice Lim. Those 64 bowlers are then placed into a bracket with a double elimination format. Each match consists of 3 games total pins to determine the winner. This year, there were 162 bowers that participated in the USBC Queens tournament.

I was on the very first squad of qualifying for the tournament. I used my Columbia300 Impulse Solid to shoot games of 225 and 224. I then switched to my trusty Oath and shot 226, 257 and then hit a bad pair my last game shooting 180 for +112 overall. After all 3 squads of qualifying, this put me in 11th place overall.

My next block, I again bowled on the fresh. I started with the same ball - the Impulse Solid and shot 208, 183 and then switched to my Oath and shot 259, 235 and used my Hammer Scandal Pearl the last game to shoot 224 for +109 on the day and +221 overall. This bumped me up to 3rd place overall.

My final round of qualifying, I bowled on the burn squad, meaning that the lanes were not re-oiled after the previous squad bowled on them. I started with my Hammer Scandal Pearl and shot 238, 255, 206, 231 and switched to my Cyborg Pearl the last game and ended with a 183. I shot +113 for the day and +334 overall which put me in 4th place overall. The cut to matchplay was +21.

In my first match, I faced Aumi Guerra from the Dominican Republic. Interesting history between Aumi and I...the year I won the Queens in 2011, I also faced Aumi in the first round of match play. I was down 80 pins going into the last game and shot 290 to come back and win the match and then went on to win the entire tournament.

This year, I started the match shooting only 203 using my Track Mako to her 212. Being down 9 pins, I switched to my Oath, but again lost more ground the second game shooting 211 to her 237. I was down 35 pins going into the final game. I stuck with my Oath and started stringing strikes. It came down to the 10th frame. I needed to throw the first strike in the 10th to win the match. I threw it well and struck and ended up shooting 237 to her 186 for a 651-635 victory.

My next match, I faced collegiate standout and Team USA Member Stephanie Schwartz and we bowled on the burn. I used my Oath and shot a clean 215 to her 224. I then shot a clean 219 to her 197. I was down 13 pins going into the last game. Unfortunately, my look started going away and her look got significantly better. She started stringing strikes and it was all she wrote, as she went on to shoot 255 to my 187 for a 676 victory over my 621, sending me into the contenders bracket.

Being put in the contender's bracket in the 1st or 2nd round is pretty detrimental. You have to bowl a ton of matches to get to the TV show since bowlers keep getting thrown into the contenders bracket from the winners bracket each round. It's also win or go home, as once you loose in the contenders bracket, you are out of the tournament.

I had to bowl my first match in the contenders bracket that evening. I faced Hall of Famer Leanne Hulsenburg on the burn. I knew I was going to have to bowl well, not only because it was Leanne, but also because she was most likely going to be able to open up the lanes, since they were not re-oiled and create a better shot than I could. I started off shooting a clean 213 using my Oath to her 203. The next game, I made a gutsy move and decided to stay right and throw it firm, balling down to my Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl and shot a clean 215 to her 243.  I was down 18 pins going into the last game and ended up stringing strikes for a clean 244. The match came down to the 10th frame and I managed to win 672 to 661.

The next morning, I faced collegiate player Jessica Mellott. I sanded my Columbia 300 Impulse Solid and shot a clean 245 to her 194. I stuck with the same ball throughout and shot 222 to her 206. She then started stringing strikes the last game, but luckily I also continued striking shooting 233 to her 256 for a 700-656 win.

My next match, we again bowled on the burn and I faced newly wed and Team USA Teammate Josie Earnest-Barnes. I knew this match would be very tough as Josie was 3rd after qualifying and we were the top 2 highest seeded players still alive in the tournament.

I was able to start off with my Impulse Solid and shot 245 to her 249. The second game, I switched to  a pin down Columbia 300 Tyrant, swinging it a little with a little slower ball speed on the left lane and stayed with a more direct line, harder to the right with my Impulse Solid on the right lane. I managed to shoot 245 to her 236. I was up 5 pins going into the final game. The match came down to the 9th and 10th frame. I needed to strike in both the 9th and first shot in the 10th to lock her out. I threw both shots well, striking and ended up winning the match 716-690.

In my next match, I faced Clara Guerrero. I started with my Ebonite Game Breaker 2 Phenom, but quickly switched back to my Impulse Solid and shot 224 to Clara's 247. The next game, I shot a clean 247 to her 202. I was up 22 pins going into the last game and continued striking to shoot another clean 247 to her 194 for a 718 win over her 643.

In my next match, I faced another heavy hitter - Danielle McEwan. Throughout the match, I used my Columbia 300 Impulse Solid and shot 224 to her 225. The next game, I shot 201 to her 208. I was down 8 pins going into the final game. Danielle and I were both striking and it came down to the 8th, 9th and 10th frame. I needed to strike in the 8th, 9th, first shot in the 10th and get good count my 2nd shot in the 10th to lock her out. Those shots were some of the best I've thrown under pressure, as I pured each one off my hand. I ended up shooting 268 to her 224 to win 693-657. Check out my twitter account to see the last shots of that match @missyparkin

In my next match, I faced Singaporean lefty Cherie Tan. I didn't throw the ball very well in the first game and was having some troubles on the right lane. I only shot 167 to her 189. In the next match, I shot 211 to her 215. I was down 26 pins going into the final game. I started stringing strikes but a stubborn 10 pin and 9 pin in between strikes ended my winning streak. I shot 225 to her 245 to lose 603 to 649.

I ended up in 7th place overall for the tournament. If I had won that match, I would have made it to the contenders elimination match, where 4 bowlers bowl 3 games against each other and the top 3 players advance to the TV show. 

Hopefully everyone was able to watch the USBC Queens on CBS Sports Network. Congratulations to  Team C300 teammate Diana Zavjalova on winning her 2nd Queens title!

Now time for a little rest on this holiday weekend before heading out to our next stop in Wichita, Kansas. Until then!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stop #3 -The PWBA Fountain Valley Open

This past week, the PWBA came close to my home for the PWBA Fountain Valley Open at Fountain Bowl in Southern California.

Prior to the start of the event, Scott Norton had some of us over for a little get together, which was a lot of fun!

Also this week, just before the practice session, we had a PWBA photo shoot.

It was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed this week. However, the best thing about the event being so close to home, was that a ton of my family, friends customers and lessons came out to cheer me on. My family called it “my entourage.” I’m sure the entire bowling center thought I was shooting 300 every game with the abundance of cheering. LOL! It was amazing to be able to compete in front of them!

This week, we competed on a 38’ pattern using Curve oil. Seeing as this bowling center tends to hook pretty good already, I knew there would definitely be some friction.

I ended up struggling to start game 1, shooting only 162 (my lowest qualifying game of the season thus far.) But then I quickly turned it around shooting 203 and then completely switched strategies. I was playing further inside, trying to be soft and let it float off my hand (not my strong suite.) So instead, I switched to my Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl, moved back right and threw it hard to play a straighter line. This definitely paid off as I then shot 214, 238, 227 and 209 for +55 overall. This put me in 12th place.

The next qualifying block, I decided to start with my Game Breaker 2 Phenom again throwing the ball harder with a straighter line. This also paid off, as I strung 10 in-a-row for a 267 game 1. Then followed it up with a 211, 217 and 236 before hitting a horrible pair and shooting 145 with 5 splits.  I brought it back the last game and ended the night with a 245 to be +176 and in 4th place overall.

Going into the casher’s round, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do on the lanes. Unfortunately, the fronts burned up quicker and the backends got tighter and the line that I had been playing completely stopped working. I struggled all block to find the correct line/ball combo. Unfortunately, this cost me making the cut to the top 12 for matchplay. I ended up finishing tied for 15th place overall in the 3rd stop of the PWBA season.

Although I missed my ultimate goal of making match play, I am still very pleased with how I bowled all week. I only missed 3 makeable spares – a 2,8 spare a 3,10 baby split and a washout that I went around.

Thank you to Gary Foreman and the entire staff at Fountain Bowl for the gracious hospitality!  HUGE thank you to everyone that came out to cheer me on! That meant more than you’ll ever know!

On to Baton Rouge for our 1st major of the year - the USBC Queens. Time to grab another tiara!

For full tournament results, click here.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Stop #2 - The PWBA Storm Sacramento Open

This past week, I travelled to Sacramento, Calif. for the second stop of the PWBA Tour Season – The PWBA Storm Sacramento Open at Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes.

This has been one of my favorite stops in the past as we always have a huge fan base and the center is always packed. This week was also awesome because I was able to talk my good luck charm into coming - bestie Scott Norton!

During the tournament this week, we competed without knowing the oil pattern. A lane graph was purposefully not posted and the pattern won’t be released until the TV show.  Although an official pattern wasn’t posted, we definitely competed on a long pattern.

The format was exactly the same as the PWBA Sonoma County Open, with the exception that the lanes were freshly re-oiled in between every block. The scoring pace was again on the lower spectrum, which is perfectly fine with me since it puts a premium on shot making and picking up spares. 

I started off strong the first block of qualifying, using my Hammer Scandal with 1000 grit, playing inside and shooting games of 235 and 196 before switching to my Scandal Pearl for a 226, 200 and 203. I then used my Ebonite Maverick Pearl the last game to shoot 212. Despite having a little bit of an issue with spares that block, I did manage to stay steady and shoot +72, which put me in 8th place overall.

We didn’t have much of a break in between blocks, as we had 5 people on a pair, which makes for a very long qualifying day. Prior to the start of the second block, I was presented with a special 300 ring for shooting 300 during the 2017 Team USA Trials. A nice surprise!

The second set, the lanes were pretty tough. I started out well shooting 228 again with my Hammer Scandal and then switched to my Scandal Pearl for a 216. I struggled the next couple of games to find the right look and shot 186 and 185. Then I switched to my Ebonite Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl and ended the block with 205 and 196 to shoot +16, putting me at +88 overall and in 9th place.

We had a very quick turnaround, not getting done until after 11pm Friday night, I was back in the center by 7:45am Saturday morning to get ready for the casher’s round. I again had the same game plan, shooting 195 and 218 to start. However, I then hit a couple of bad pairs and shot 184 and 172, which dropped me down to being 50 pins out of the top 12 cut to match play with 2 games to go.

I rallied and switched to my Ebonite Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl and managed to shoot 236 and 211 to secure the 12th and final spot into match play at +104 overall.

I knew there were a lot of games left, especially with the added bonus pins for winning each match. Although I tried my best, I just couldn’t seem to get anything going in match play. Despite not winning many matches, I still had an outside chance of making the stepladder finals going into position round. Unfortunately, things didn’t’ turn out the way I had hoped and I finished in 11th place overall in the tournament. With a high game of 235 and a low game of 172 for the entire tournament, I am pleased with my overall performance for the week.

All in all, still a great week and 2 for 2 on match play appearances this season. 

Congratulations to Liz Johnson, Rocio Restrepo, Diana Zavjalova and Danielle McEwan for making the TV show. 

Don’t forget! If you’re in the Southern California area, come out to Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley, Calif. to watch the best women bowlers in the world compete at the PWBA Fountain Valley Open starting this Thursday, May 11th. For a full schedule, click here. Can’t wait to compete in my own backyard! See you on the lanes!

 Action Photos courtesy of Kimberly Power

Monday, May 1, 2017

1st Stop of the PWBA Season - the QubicaAMF PWBA Sonoma County Open

The PWBA Tour Season is Back! Last week, started the season off at Double Decker Lanes in Rohnert Park, Calif. for the QubicaAMF PWBA Sonoma County Open.

Needing to arrive a couple of days early prior to the start of the event due to two special media training sessions, I stayed one night with friend and Hall of Famer Vesma Grinfelds in San Francisco. It’s always nice to visit friends and see this amazing City. 


Our first week back, we bowled on a grueling 40’ flat pattern, meaning the lanes are oiled straight across exactly the same, creating no room for error. This puts a premium on shot making and picking up spares. 

The format for this event featured two 6-game blocks of qualifying on Saturday. The field was then cut to the top 32 for the casher’s round, in which we then bowled 6 more games of qualifying before cutting to the top 12 for matchplay.

I decided to attack the pattern different than most the first block. I stayed far to the right, pointing the ball to the pocket using my Track Mako, but had a rough start shooting only 169. I then switched to my Track Heat Xtreme playing the same angle shooting 223. Game 3, I again switched balls to my Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl shooting 172 and then decided to go old school using my Black Hammer urethane for the duration of the squad shooting 217, 210 and 185 for -24 overall. With scores being very low, and +86 leading the squad, -24 put me in 14th place going into the second block of qualifying.

I changed my strategy for the 2nd block, as there was no re-oil in between blocks this week. I used my trusty Orange Eruption Pro and played far inside with speed and giving the ball a  little room and shot games of 248, 186, 223, 245, 175 and 208 for +85 on the night and +61 overall which moved me up into 3rd place, with only 4 people in the entire field plus. It took -172 to make it to the top 32 casher’s round.

The next day, I again played the lanes different. I played inside with speed, a little loft and a more direct line. I used my Game Breaker 2 Phenom to shoot 194 and then switched to my Game Breaker 2 Phenom Pearl and shot 180, 214, 190, 228 and 222 for +28 on the block and +89 overall, which kept me in 3rd place going into match play.

Matchplay is unique in the sense that bowlers get split up into two different brackets – even numbered positions (2,4,6,8 10, and 12) and odd numbered positions (1,3,5,7,9,11). We then bowl 6 games of round robin matchplay against players in our respective backets only, with a 30 pin bonus granted for each win.  The top bowler in each bracket automatically advances to the TV show. Then the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds in each bracket bowl a stepladder final (3 vs 4 and the winner bowls 2) with the overall winner of each bracket also advancing to the TV show to composite the top 4.

I had a bit of a rough time in macthplay as I was bowling very well, but couldn’t seem to win enough matches. In my first match, I faced Brandi Branka and shot 221 to lose to her 237. I won my next two matches shooting 221 and 217. Game 4 was crucial. I was catching up to the leader. I could strike out for 224 but only needed a mark in the 10th frame to win my match. I threw a great shot and left an unlucky pocket 8, 10 to lose the 30 bonus pins and only shot 193. Going into game 5, only 7 pins separated the top 3. My look started going away in the worst possible time since I was bowling against top seed Diana Zavjalova. I left another pocket 8, 10 as well as a pocket 7, 10 to lose by 10 pins - 182 to her 192. This dropped me down into 3rd place going into position round.

I had a chance to still earn the top seed and a spot on the TV show. If Diana won the match against Brandi Branka, I needed to win my match and beat Diana by 46 pins. If Brandi won the match against Diana, I needed to win my match and beat Brandi by 7 pins. Unfortunately, I was stuck on the same pair that I had just bowled on against Diana. I still coulndn’t seem to figure out the lanes and only shot 166 losing the match.

Brandi Branka ended up striking out in the 10th frame to defeat Diana Z for the top seed in our bracket. This put Diana is 2nd place for the stepladder finals, I was 3rd place and Maria Jose Rodriguez was 4th place. I would face Maria in match 1.

The stepladder finals were bowled on fresh oil and not having the greateset look on fresh, I decided to try a different bowling ball to start the match. This looked promising in practice, but then quickly went away as I struggled the entire match shooting my lowest game of the tournament – 152 to Maria’s 206. Maria went on to defeat Diana Z 187-181 to earn the other spot on the TV show.

In the other bracket, Rocio Restrepo earned the overall top seed on the TV show. With Shannon Pluhowsky winning in the stepladder final against amateur Karen Rosprim to earn the final spot on the TV show.

TV show finalists - Maria Jose Rodriguez 4th, Shannon Pluhowsky 3rd, Brandi Branka 2nd and Rocio Restrepo 1st  

This week was definitely a great start to the season, but bittersweet for it to end the way it did. It was by far the most difficult pattern I have ever bowled on. I averaged 203.71 and the highest average was 205.5 with only 5 players averaging over 200. Great week, but definitely more motiviation for next week in Sacramento for the PWBA Storm Sacramento Open! Until then…

Bowling photos courtesy of Kimberly Power. Thanks for the amazing shots!!!