When St. Catharine College decided five years ago to join the prestigious Mid-South Conference, visions of hoisting a championship trophy in baseball, soccer, softball basketball, volleyball, etc, danced in the minds of college officials. At that time the Patriots had no bowling teams.
But bowling was added to the athletic program four years ago. And now, the first Mid-South Conference championship at St. Catharine belongs to the Patriots' women’s bowling team.
The Alley Pats stormed through last weekend’s double elimination tournament in Smryna, Tennessee without a loss, twice defeating national power Pikeville. It was the inaugural MSC tournament for the newly sanctioned sport of bowling.
They (Pikeville) obviously have a good team but maybe they came in a little overconfident,” said Luvisi. “After all, they were 18-0 against conference opponents going into the tournament. They didn’t bowl quite as well as they can and we bowled as good or better than we have all year.”
The Mid-South Conference tournament used the Baker Scoring system. In that format the five person team bowls toward one score with each bowler bowling two frames. Each match is the best three out of five games.
The Alley Pats, who entered the tournament as the third seed, opened with a win over sixth seeded Cumberland in three games, 146-140, 202-157, 156-133. They then beat second seeded Bethel in four games to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket.
In that winner’s bracket final they beat number one seed Pikeville 180-184, 186-176, 198-169, 163-148.
Pikeville then emerged from the loser’s bracket but needed to beat St. Catharine twice to win that championship. Luvisi’s team didn’t allow the Bears to take it to the second game as they won 178-170, 158-177, 165-148, 131-199, 192-185.
“We needed a strike in the ninth frame from Tiffany Webb in order to get to Amanda (Conrad) who could win it for us in the tenth frame,” explained Luvisi.
Webb got that ninth frame strike which meant that Conrad could sew up the championship with one more strike, which she got sending the purple clad St. Catharine quintet into a celebration.
“Of course Amanda, Tiffany and Casey (Baryla) bowled well but the key to our success was Stephanie Wilcheck and Lauren Johnston,” added Luvisi who is in his third year as coach of both the men and women Alley Pats. “Those two really came through for us.”
While winning team championships is nothing new to Wilcheck and Johnston who each won numerous state titles in high school while bowling for PRP High School in Louisville, last weekend was the first team title of which Conrad, a Spencer County High School grad, has been a part.
“I always go into a match feeling confident,” said Conrad who anchored the Alley pats an d who has won many individual honors in Louisville tournaments. “You just have to go in with the right mindset that you are going to win.”
That attitude will be especially important as St. Catharine heads to the next tournament which is the United States Bowling Congress Sectional tournament, again in Smyrna, Tennessee. The Alley pats qualified for that tournament (March 7-9) by being ranked in the top 64 teams in the nation. Sixteen teams will compete in four sectionals and the top four teams from each sectional will advance to the USBC National Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska.
St. Catharine was close to pulling off a double victory at the conference tournament. The men’s team needed just one more pin, giving them a spare in the tenth frame, to knock off national power Pikeville. But the Alley Pats left the tenth frame open and fell to the Bears.
Cumberland emerged from the loser’s bracket to beat Pikeville twice to claim the men’s championship.