ROWLETT, Texas (3/25/23) – Facing a 3-1 deficit in Baker best-of-seven play, the Arkansas State women’s bowling team roared back and defeated Sam Houston to win the Southland Bowling League Championship and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
A-State (77-29) earns its third Southland Bowling League title, first since 2018. With the automatic bid, the Red Wolves will make their 15th-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. A-State will hold a selection show watch part at The Social, located at 1004 Chancery Lane in Jonesboro. The event is open to the public ahead of the 3 p.m. show.
The NCAA Women’s Bowling Committee selects a field of 16 teams, including eight automatic qualifiers and eight at-large teams. The 16 teams will be divided into four regional sites – East Lansing, Mich., Rochester, N.Y., Pittsburgh, Pa. and Arlington, Texas – with matches scheduled for April 7-8. The four regional winners advance to the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas for the NCAA Championship April 14-15.
A-State got off a good start taking the traditional pinfall 1,087-940. True-freshman Maggie Thoma led the Red Wolves with a tournament-best game of 279. Faith Welch totaled 213 and Brooklyn Buchanan added 201 toward the total while Karli VanDuinen (198) and Emma Stull (196) were just shy of 200.
Sam Houston rallied in the fifth game of Baker total pinfall with a 234-153 margin in game five to overcome a 27-pin deficit. A-State took an 18-pin advantage in the first game, 193-175, but the Bearkats chipped away eight pins with a 191-183 total in game two. The Red Wolves increased the advantage to 12 with a 204-202 tally in game three and a 15-pin advantage in game four, 203-188, built the 27-pin lead headed to the fifth game before Sam Houston took the match.
Sam Houston took leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the best-of-seven Baker series, but A-State battled tough lane conditions and roared back. After falling by eight pins in game five (161-153), A-State took game five 205-191. A key spare by Buchanan in the ninth frame on the two and 10 pin in addition to back-to-back strikes in the 10th by Faith Welch forced a decisive game seven with the Red Wolves taking game six 197-181. A-State closed out the win in dominating fashion with a 225-180.
Thoma earned Tournament MVP honors while Welch also earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. For…