Feldman closes season on high note

by Gianmarc Manzione 0

MICHELLE FELDMAN of Auburn, N.Y., concluded a personally disappointing season with a resounding victory in the PBA Women’s Series Showdown presented by Bowl.com at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas.

Feldman, who got into the PBA Tour special event via a sequence of fortunate breaks, was nearly perfect in the competition that aired on ESPN, defeating Shannon Pluhowsky of Kettering, Ohio, and Stefanie Nation of Grand Prairie, Texas, for a $25,000 first prize.

Feldman, an 11-time PWBA champion before the women’s tour ceased operations in 2003, survived a tense opening round in the Petraglia Scoring System event, but was a pair of 10-pins away from throwing a perfect game in the title match to defeat Pluhowsky and Nation.

It was a rewarding conclusion to a season in which Feldman’s two previous television appearances – in the Bayer Don and Paula Carter Mixed Doubles Championship and the USBC Queens – came up short of a title. This time, even the opportunity to participate came her way only because the qualifying rules lined up in her favor.

“I didn’t bowl very good in the PBA Women’s Series this year,” she confessed. “I just didn’t click. When you bowl in the same place the whole time and don’t get comfortable, it kind of puts a damper on how you think you’re going to bowl. I didn’t make a show or win a title, but I guess I picked the right week to bowl well, and that was the one that got me into this tournament.”

In the Showdown, the Petraglia Scoring System also worked for Feldman. The system awards one point for each ball thrown to complete a frame, with the lowest score winning. A perfect game is a 10 – i.e., 10 strikes in 10 frames. By converting 10-pin spares in the 5th and 6th frames, and striking on her other eight shots, Feldman posted a score of 12 compared to Pluhowsky’s 16 and Nation’s 20.

Feldman got into the title match by winning a one-ball rolloff against Nation in the first round, after they tied at 14. Feldman, who converted the 2-4-6-7 split in the 10th frame to earn the tie, struck to win the rolloff while Nation knocked down only six pins.

Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., finished third with 16 points and joined Nation in the Wild Card round.

In the other first-round matchup, Pluhowsky started with nine strikes before leaving a 7-pin, which she converted for a nearly-perfect 11. Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., wasn’t far behind, posting a 13 to advance to the Wild Card round, but defending  Showdown champion Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, was eliminated because she had the highest score in the opening round, a 17.

Feldman and Pluhowsky, as winners of their groups, automatically advanced to the championship match. In the Wild Card contest among the next three lowest scorers, Nation’s 13 earned her a berth in the showdown match. Kulick had a 15 and Johnson an 18.

“In the title match, I knew Stefanie had an okay shot and I knew Shannon really had a good look,” Feldman said. “She almost had a perfect game in the first round. I figured Shannon would be the harder person to beat. We were pretty close the whole game, until she split in the 10th. That kind of made it so all I had to do was get a spare to win.”

Ironically, the stars aligned perfectly for Feldman to get into the season-ending special event, which was designed for the champions of the six PBA Women’s Series singles events (the Mixed Doubles was excluded).

In cases of multiple champions, the next highest finisher got a spot in the Showdown. Kulick was a double-winner (PBA Women’s World Championship and Shark Championship) as was Pluhowsky (Chameleon and Scorpion Championships). Johnson won the Viper title and Nation claimed the Earl Anthony Memorial women’s event.

Dorin-Ballard qualified as runner-up to Kulick in the Shark, and Feldman qualified as the fourth-place finisher in the Scorpion because Pluhowsky, Johnson and Kulick had previously qualified.

“It was more fun than most days this year,” Feldman said. “It’ll definitely make it a nicer summer for me.”

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