April 12, 2008
OMAHA, Neb. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) won the 2008 NCAA Women's National Championship on Saturday evening at Thunder Alley in Omaha, Nebraska. "I'm speechless," said a grinning Coach Sharon Brummell. "After last year, I thought we could contend for the championship."
Contend they did, but there is a much larger story to tell.
The Hawks went into the tournament ranked second in the country and were the runners-up to the National Championship in 2007. They started slow however and qualified seventh on the first day and had to fight their way to the title. Fight they did.
UMES battled Arkansas State University (ASU) in the finals match, televised live on ESPNU, and won the match 4-2. UMES almost didn't make it to the match. They lost the previous day to Vanderbilt, whom they topped to open the first round of the tournament, and forced a rematch on Saturday. The Hawks quickly found themselves down 3-0 to the Commodores and the title hopes were fleeting. But UMES rebounded, won game four and then five, thanks to Jessica Worsley.
Worsley, who hit "the big four" split yesterday, was faced with a 2-10 split in the fifth. A miss would have meant a significant pin difference, but just like yesterday Worsley nailed it and shifted the momentum for the Hawks.
"Today, these young ladies fought," said Brummell. "When were bowling against Vanderbilt earlier today and we were down three games, it got a little scary. Then Jessica Worsley decides to pick up a 2-10 split and it just seemed to change the whole momentum of the game and they came out fighting today when we were starting out in the championship."
"The big four was the shot of my life, but the other split meant so much too. I knew I needed to make it and there was no doubt in my mind I could get it," Worsley, the senior, said.
Those two shots, as well as Worsley rounding out the game six win, getting a clutch strike to start the tenth, earned her All-Tournament Team honors. But it didn't stop there, she was named the 2008 Most Valuable Bowler by the NCAA.
"It was just a dream even making the finals last year and finishing second," Worsley said. "Most people can't even said they've done that in their career. Just going out on top and finishing first my senior year, words can't describe how great that feels. I couldn't have asked for a better coaching staff or team to finish my career with and winning the national championship was just the icing on the cake."
Freshmen sensation Maria Rodriguez was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
What perhaps is more important then the pins that fell, is the historical implications of the Lady Hawks championship.
The title is the first NCAA National Championship in school history and the second overall since the Men's Outdoor Track & Field Team won an NAIA title in 1963. It is the first women's title ever at the DI level by a historically black college or university (HBCU) and the first time a woman coach has won a bowling championship.
"Somebody told me I was the first woman to win a championship," Brummel said. "We've been to all five championships and finally a woman wins. It's a wonderful feeling, it really is."
A tape-delay of the championship game will be broadcast on ESPN 2 at 7 p.m. (ET) on Monday, April 14. The television may also have had something to do with the Lady Hawk's confidence as they were veterans of the camera. "We bowled on TV two weeks ago," said Brummell. "When we went in I had a feeling that we would be more relaxed, thanks to our conference championship being televised we see that at least once before nationals."
UMES claimed the title with a 4-2 win over Arkansas State. With a line-up of Laura Zanrucha, Kristina Frahm, Christine King, Rodriguez and Worsley, the Hawks took an early lead in the first game. Arkansas State had two open frames to start the game. However, Arkansas State came on strong during the fourth frame, as sophomore Maggie Adams started a series of six strikes for the Indians. The Hawks were unable to overcome the deficit and fell, 179-223, to ASU in the first game.
UMES' come back was quick in the second game as they out shot the Indians, 200-181. The Hawks recorded seven spares and three strikes, while Arkansas State held two open frames to begin the game. The teams were tied at 1-1 heading into the third game.
Despite two open frames to start game three, Arkansas State's anchor Marissa Martinek helped the Indians to victory with back-to-back strikes in the tenth frame. Arkansas State defeated UMES, 182-180.
The Lady Hawks answered back with a 217-164 win over Arkansas State in the fourth game. UMES was on fire with six strikes and five spares in the game, which brought them to a 2-2 draw with ASU.
The Hawks kept rolling to a 3-2 lead over Arkansas State in the fifth game. Two strikes in both the eighth and ninth frames gave the Hawks a strong 175-152 win over the Indians.
With momentum on its side, UMES capped the night with a 174-170 victory over Arkansas State to capture the 2008 Women's Bowling Championship title.
"I want to thank the University, my Athletic Director, the support staff, these wonderful young ladies and my assistant coaches," said Brummell. "Especially Doug Dukes, he works with these young ladies and is a key to their success. That and we bought a new suit," Brummell said laughing.
Dukes went out to by a new suit before the National Championship. He did that last season as well before the TV finals. The previous three years, when UMES finished seventh each year, Dukes had brought a suit with him and he swore it off after that and decided he would by one each year if he had to."
"I hope I have to keep buying them," Dukes said with a smile.
Following the awards ceremony, five championship bowlers were recognized with all-tournament team honors. Worlsey, Rodriguez, Brittany Garcia (Vanderbilt), Vicki Spratford (New Jersey City) and Maggie Adams (Arkansas State) were all honored.
UMES isn't done yet. They vie for one more National Championship next weekend when they compete in the USBC National Championship in Wichita, Kansas on April 18-20, their final event of the year.
Portions of this release appear compliments of NCAASports.com.