Open frames foil Marshalltown girls

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Marshalltown’s Ashly Wiegand awaits a strike on Thursday at Totem Bowl, during the Bobcats’ dual with CIML Iowa Conference foe Fort Dodge. Wiegand bowled a 242 series as the Bobcats fell to the Dodgers, 2,554-2,212.

Marshalltown girls’ head coach Andy Schwandt will tell anyone there’s a lot more to bowling than just throwing a ball down a lane and trying to knock over some pins.

He’s been working on getting the girls’ bowling team to learn that, too, and for the most part, the bowlers have caught on. Despite their 2,554-2,217 loss to Fort Dodge on Thursday, the girls showed where they’ve improved, where they’re improving and where their weaknesses are.

Karlie Potter led the way for the Bobcats (2-6) with a series-high 364, while ShayeLyn Picket’s 177 first-round score helped put her at 309 on the afternoon. The two were accompanied by Haley Bell’s ever-clean second round, posting only strikes and spares through 10 frames on her way to a 196.

It was Bell’s play of coming back for pick-ups that Schwandt said the rest of the team needs to get better at. He said the Bobcats left too many open frames out on the lanes.

“We’ve got to continue to hit our spares,” Schwandt said. “That’s what’s hurting us right now. So we’re going to continue to work on spare shooting, as well as learning lane play. [Learning] to watch our ball to make sure we’re hitting our target. And when we’re hitting our target, what’s the ball doing on the ball’s doing on the backend of the lane.”

Making the proper adjustments after learning how the ball is reacting to the lanes is the next step for the Bobcats to take.

But it’s not just ball movement and pin placement the Bobcats will seek to shore up, with hopes of making a late-season run at a state tournament berth.

The lanes themselves require scientific adjustment as the rounds go on, with a ball making a pass down the lane up to 84 times in a single match. The oil used wears down, making the ball grip to the lane just that much harder, providing challenges to each bowler.

“It’s all a physics game,” Schwandt said. “You make one little move one direction, and the ball will move the other. But it’s also learning there’s other factors out there on the lane, and that’s the oil. As the oil gets less and you play a line a lot, the oil gets depleted.

“That’s what you have to continue to look for and that’s when you make the proper approach moves or hand position move, or whatever it takes to fix the situation.”

While there’s plenty to work on for the girls’ team, Schwandt is well aware of the progress being made on the lanes by his team. Individual scores have been significantly higher this year than the previous, and that’s been because of experience and a dedication to learning and becoming better at the game.

“We always look for the fabulous stuff,” Schwandt said. “We had a lot more girls up in the 300s in the series. We’re a lot stronger, so we’ve got the individual games starting to come along fine. We still have to continue to work on our bakers games, where our average is 146, and we didn’t hit that [on Thursday].”

Pickett’s 177 was a season-best for her and it was the fourth-straight game the Bobcats bowled over 2,000 pins.

The Bobcats are back in action on senior night, next Thursday against Ankeny at the Totem Bowl. First roll is set for 3:45 p.m.