SPRINGFIELD TWP. The goal for the Springfield girls bowling team for this season is simple: Make it three in a row.
Having reached the state tournament the past two seasons, the Spartans entered the year with designs on a third straight trip to Columbus. Through the first half of the season, nothing has indicated that those ambitions are anything other than realistic.
With a 10-1 record to kick off their campaign, the Spartans are rolling strong and veteran head coach Matt Graves is happy with what he’s seen from his squad to this point.
“We’ve been in some close matches and won, but I don’t think we’ve done our bowling best yet,” Graves said. “I’m excited for end of season and what we can do.”
With two seniors, two juniors and one sophomore in the starting lineup, Springfield has balance between its veterans and underclassmen and it’s been senior Mackenzie Bever and sophomore Kam Smith who have led the way in scoring.
Bever, one of the most experienced bowlers on the roster, leads the way with a scoring average of 177 per game, with sophomore Kam Smith close behind with a 175 average.
The biggest win on the season so far has been against Garrettsville, which came into the match with a 12-0 record and left with its first loss of the season. The G-Men, one of the favorites in the PTC’s small-school division, provided a good test for the Spartans and showcased the one area of Springfield’s game Graves believes has been a difference maker.
“Our strength has been our Baker games, along with the fact that we’re bowling very well as a team,” Graves said. “When someone is having a day, someone else picks them up and everyone has each other’s back.”
The next major hurdle for the Spartans to clear is the PTC championships, set for the first Saturday in February. While returning to the state tournament for the third straight year and the fourth time in program history is the overarching aim for the season, being successful within the league - both in terms of dual matches and the league championships - is also a focus.
“We want to try to win the PTC, then get back to state tournament this year because we’ve been there last two years,” Graves said.
The mantra for what remains of the season is to stay consistent and trust in what has gotten the Spartans to this point, according to Graves. He and the rest of the coaching staff remind bowlers to be “selfless, not selfish” both in matches and outside of them when it comes to team activities.
Beyond that, increasing each bowler’s spare percentage is essential in Graves’ eyes because there won’t be that many strikes in a match and bowlers have to be able to find a way to secure a spare when their first roll doesn’t take out all 10 pins.
Given that the bowling program has been one of the most consistently successful at Springfield over the past few years, the success of this year’s team through its first 11 matches probably hasn’t surprised many, but the Spartans are determined not to be content with what they’ve done so far. They want to extend that run of success all the way to Columbus for another year and see if they can find their way to the top of the podium once there.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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