’Cats close by drubbing Dowling

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior ShayeLyn Pickett sends a ball down the lane during her individual set on Thursday in the Bobcats’ senior-night win over Dowling Catholic. Pickett rolled a 428 series, the highest by any MHS girl this season.

It had been a rough five-game stretch for the Marshalltown girls bowling team lately that saw the team lose each of its last five meets against some stellar competition.

Heading into Thursday’s regular season finale at Wayward Social, the Bobcats wanted to end on a high note with a win against Dowling Catholic, and they were able to do just that, beating the Maroons 2,298-1,820 on senior night.

Senior ShayeLyn Pickett saved her best performance of the season for her final home dual, as she had a season-high game of 236 and the best series of the year for any MHS girl with a 428 to lead the Bobcats (6-6).

After the match, Pickett said once she got warmed up in the first game she knew she was on her way to a good score.

“My first three frames I was still kind of getting used to the lane but then that fourth frame came around and I thought ‘I got this, I know what I’m doing, I can feel it, it all feels great and I am going to keep doing it,'” she said.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Haley Bell claps along with her teammates after recording a strike in the Baker games in the Bobcats’ senior night win over Dowling Catholic on Thursday.

MHS head coach Andy Schwandt had nothing but praise for one of his seniors leaders, saying that she stepped up when the team needed her to lead the way.

“Shout out to ShayeLyn Pickett, she had a season-high game and a team-high series. I am excited about that, that was the first 400 we’ve had this season,” Schwandt said. “She’s a senior, she’s excited about it and she came out and performed.”

Of the six varsity bowlers on the day, four were seniors, and all of them contributed in some way to the Bobcats’ final dual win of the season. Carlie Potter had the second-best series of the day with a 342, followed by Ashly Wiegand’s 293, Haley Bell with a 282, Emily Diggins with a 227 and Ali Olinger’s 216.

Schwandt said the girls succeeded because they worked together and encouraged each other throughout the meet.

“They gelled really well, finally we are getting in to it and this is the time where they should be peaking because we have two big meets yet to go,” he said. “We want to make a statement at the CIML, and then come home here on the 13th for substate here.”

As Schwandt said, though the regular season is over the road for the MHS girls is far from finished. They have a couple weeks now to work on some things before competing in the CIML Iowa Conference meet in early February, and what Schwandt said they need to focus on most is their ability to pick up spares.

“We still have a lot to work on yet, we are still leaving a lot of pins out there on the lane,” he said. “10 pins are again a crux that we have to fix. We have to fix that issue because it is so crucial in winning tournaments.

“One thing to help us with that is we have to pay better attention to the ball as it leaves our hand. Did we throw a good ball? And if we did throw a good ball, what did the ball do? What are the lanes giving us?”

On top of working on their skills on the lane, Schwandt said what will be important to keep in mind as the pressure ramps up in the postseason is to keep a positive attitude so one bad throw doesn’t take his girls out of their element.

“We are still refining what our technique will be, especially in picking up spares, but the other will be working on team energy and figuring out how we can keep everyone’s attitude up,” he said. “It’s all about taking a look at our body language coming off the lane, we want to get rid of all the negative Nellies and keep everything positive no matter what comes off your hand. That is critical as we get into these more high-pressured situations.”

Of course, even though there is still growth to be had, the girls can take some time and celebrate this win over Dowling and finishing with a .500 record.

“It was definitely the best feeling, I mean if we would have lost I would have been so upset,” Picket said. “Senior night, knowing that we won and a lot of the seniors were on the varsity team, it felt so great to know that we just did really awesome.”

The Bobcats will next take the lanes on February 8 when they head down to Merle Hay Lanes in Des Moines for the CIML Iowa Conference meet.