Twenty-three bowling teams from around the nation converged on Indianapolis for the NAIA Invitational on April 2-3. And when the last ball was rolled, the St. Catharine College Patriots, in just their second year as a team, finished fifth in the nation.
“We had to bowl 24 game in baker-style (where five bowlers bowl two frames each) and we bowled our highest 24 game set of the season (averaging 187),” said head coach Larry Luvisi. “That gave us a tenth seed in the head to head competition that started later that day.”
The match play consisted also of baker-style with the teams bowling a best three out of five match. The Patriots started with #23 seed Our Lady of the Lake University and won 3-0. The starting five of Brett Saltsman, Jamie Wallingford, Dylan Boggs, Corey Elliott and Jimmy Carroll averaged just 162 in that first match but advanced.
In the second match the Patriots battled through five games before downing #7 McKendree College 3-2 behind some key play of Boggs and Elliott.
In the next match of the first day the Patriots fell 3-1 against Davenport College which sent them to the contenders’ bracket where they bowled against the number six team in the nation Calumet College-St. Joseph. In that match the Patriots averaged 190 and were never threatened in winning 3-0.
“We were now known as the Cinderella team up there when we got to Sunday,” said Luvisi.
On Sunday the Patriots roared to a 1-0 lead against St. Ambrose College by winning 269-189 en route to a 3-2 win. Carroll threw two clutch strikes in the final frames for the victory.
In their final match the Patriots lost 3-2 when a bowler from William Penn strikes out to pull out the victory.
Davenport beat William Penn 3-1 in the finals to win the National Championship.
“We had three sophomores and two freshmen there so I feel really good about the future of our team,” added Luvisi. “The returning players along with some good recruits should give us a good team next year, for both men and women.”