McEwan Grabs Top Seed for PWBA Wichita Open Finals

by Bob Johnson 0

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WICHITA, Kansas - Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., was a slow starter during qualifying at the 2016 Professional Women's Bowling Association Wichita Open, but had no trouble in match play to earn the top seed at Northrock Lanes.

McEwan averaged more than 257 during match play to claim the No. 1 seed for the TV finals, which will be taped June 26 at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and air Tuesday, July 5 on CBS Sports Network.

McEwan opened match play with games of 279, 268 and 276 for an 823 series, the first 800 series rolled by a PWBA player since the re-launch of the tour in 2015. The 24-year-old right-hander followed with 276, 233 and 211 for a six-game total of 1,543.

McEwan, coming off a third-place finish at the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Queens, notched a 4-2 match-play record in the Group B standings for a 5,590 pinfall total, which included 30 pins for each victory.

"This is the first time I've ever done something like that," said McEwan, who is a five-time Team USA member. "I don't really shoot high games or high series or have big sets like that. I'm more of a grinder who doesn't give away pins, who will occasionally pop a big game. That's usually my strength. I don't even have words to describe what was going through my head because I was in such shock. I was just bowling."

Saturday's competition began with the 32 cashers bowling a six-game block to determine the top 12 players for round-robin match play.

While Cassandra Leuthold of Lincoln, Nebraska, had the high pinfall total during the final qualifying round Saturday morning with 1,357, McEwan fired a 753 set in her final three games to take the No. 12 seed.

"I definitely thought I was out of the tournament three or four times," said McEwan, who won 2015 The Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship. "The three qualifying blocks were the same for me because I went minus for the first three. Then, I went plus 100 or more during the back three. I had confidence in myself that I was going to figure it out and shoot a big last set. I went with a great ball suggestion that was perfect and I just went with it from there."

Colombia native Maria Jose Rodriguez led Group A with a 5,480 pinfall total on the strength of a 4-2 match-play record to claim the No. 2 seed, and a guaranteed spot on the televised show. Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, and Malaysia's Syaidatul Hamidi, advanced through the dual group stepladder finals as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds.

In the Group A stepladder, Latvia's Diana Zavjalova defeated Amanda Greene of Romney, West Virginia, 246-224.

In the final match, with her Team Malaysia teammates looking on, Hamidi tossed 12 consecutive strikes for a 300 game to down Zavjalova, 300-209.

"I feel very satisfied with my game and all my hard work is paying off," said Hamidi. "It was hard, but I was able to keep repeating shots. I'm very satisfied and didn't expect at all to be in the final."

In the Group B stepladder, Li Jane Sin, a teammate of Hamidi, defeated Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., 238-163.

In the final match, Pluhowsky had her own run at perfection, starting with six consecutive strikes and rolled to a 276-228 win over Sin.

The match-play finalists were split into two six-player groups. Each group bowled six games of match play, including a final position round, to determine the top seeds and advancers to each group stepladder final.

Go to PWBA.com for more information on the PWBA Tour. To watch the action on Xtra Frame, visit XtraFrame.TV for subscription information.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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