GIRLS' PREP BOWLING: Lady Bulldogs' Ledford on a roll (12/31)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

Entering Jan. 27 of  the last high school girls’ bowling season, only 21 games of 150 or better were rolled. None by John Hardin’s Karen Ledford, however.

Entering Jan. 1 of this season, the number of 150-plus game rolled by area girls has ballooned to 46 and this time, Ledford figures quite heavily into that tally.

Ledford leads the 27-bowler three-team area in games rolled (20), total pins (3,111), average (155.500) and high game (224). Seven other girls’ bowlers who have competed in varsity matches either did not meet the five-game minimum or are no longer on their respective teams.

Ledford has hit the 150 mark 11 times this season. Five of those instances came in a row and her last 15 games have been 131 or better.

How much difference has a year made? Through her first 27 games last season, Ledford was seventh in the area in scoring average (121.29) and had a high game of 179 – which she has surpassed five times this season.

Four other returning Lady Bulldog starters – junior Morgan Parsons (15 games rolled, 198 high game, third in single-game average at 138.867), senior Samantha Mazzorato-Smith (16, 160, fifth at 132.357) sophomore Hannah Caudill (14, 183, 130.214) and senior Danea Graves (13, 155, 127.846) – are in the area top 10 in average.

Also back from last season are seniors Sarah Wolfe (13, 169, 120.923), Stephanie Allen (14, 151, 114.357) and Sonia Smallwood (11, 120, 96.091).

Newcomers include Caitlin Scott (12, 144, 109.583), Ebonie Hampton (nine, 119, 103.222) and Kayla Rutter (five, 120, 90.600). Other varsity newcomers, who haven’t met the five-game minimum, are Meg Slatton, Gisselle Tirando, Abbey Hack and Lilly Delk.

John Hardin graduated five players off its inaugural team and had three others not return.

CENTRAL HARDIN. Three of the Lady Bruins’ top bowlers from last season are back in junior Mercedes Cote (10, 160, fourth at 134.600), senior Alneisha Butler (eight, 148, 10th at 126.375) and senior Paige Russell (nine, 134, 111.222). Also back is senior Chelsea Sidebottom, who has not bowled the games minimum.

Newcomers who have helped Central Hardin include freshman Mary Zeitler (nine, 143, 118.444), junior Chelsea Tribus (six, 132, 112.667), junior Becca Himebaugh (nine, 136, 111.333), junior Tyana Nowlan (nine, 133, 111.111), freshman Jessica Bates (eight, 114, 97.875) and junior Onjoli Murphy (six, 120, 94.667).

The Lady Bruins graduated one player from their inaugural team and had six others not return. Their depth took a further hit when senior Keri Johnson, a Morehead State University signee and the reigning 2nd Region Tournament champion, left the team after just four games.

NORTH HARDIN. The graduation of seven bowlers from last season’s region tournament runner-up squad didn’t help. Nor did the decision of one reserve not to come back. Nor did senior Emina Hatler, who was a win away from advancing to the state tournament’s singles event last season, leaving the team.

All that left the Lady Trojans with just three returnees – sophomore Ally Eastman (eight, 178, second at 154.000), sophomore Jillian Shufelt (five, 154, seventh at 130.000), and senior Allie Dennis (eight, 154, eighth at 129.250) – who are all in the top eight in average. Eastman is the only area girls’ player to have every game hit at least 127, while Dennis’ average is up more than 40 pins than from her first nine games last season. Shufelt is 1-of-6 players in the area who have reached 100 in every appearance.

Newcomers include senior Ariana Martinez (eight, 139, 111.000), eighth-grader Mary-Kate Dennis (eight, 150, 110.625), senior Brittanie Mahanna (eight, 109, 87.625) and younger sister Brooke Mahanna (six, 106, 86.000).

Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at (270) 505-1758 or nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com.