New Jersey bowler rolls first 300 of 2014 WC

By Wishelle Banks and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev. -
Tracey Stevens of Dunellen, N.J., rolled the first perfect game of the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships during her team event at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Saturday.

The 47-year-old right-hander became the 21st competitor in the 95-year history of the event to achieve the feat. She sandwiched the perfect performance between games of 209 and 189 for a 698 series to help Dunellen's The Luv Muffins into third place in Diamond Team with a 2,438 series. Junior Team USA Support 1 of Lincoln, Calif., leads with 2,555.

Stevens felt the nerves during the final frame but made sure to stick to her routine. The 44-lane venue drew quiet as she looked to add her name to the record books.

"Going into the 10th was nerve-racking," said Stevens, who made her 18th USBC Women's Championships appearance. "I tried to do what I usually do - I wiped my ball, stepped onto the approach and got up there and threw it. On the last one, it was too quiet, so I knew everybody was watching. I just wanted to get my legs up to the foul line. I knew I'd be able to throw the ball, but I just wanted to get my legs to the foul line and stop. I threw it really well and was really happy with it."

Stevens competed at the nearby USBC Open Championships prior to lacing up at the RSCC. Although she struggled at Reno's National Bowling Stadium, she felt it helped her get into a rhythm and prepared her for the Women's Championships.

Stevens still has doubles and singles competition to look forward to Sunday morning and doesn't expect her place in tournament history to sink in until she returns home.

"It's unbelievable, and I don't even know how to explain it," said Stevens, who won the New Jersey State Queens in 2013. "It probably won't sink in for a couple of days. It feels wonderful."

The first perfect game in Women's Championships history was rolled by Milwaukee's Lori Gensch at the 1979 event in Tucson, Ariz.

ErlichEva2014_250x140Earlier on Saturday, Eva Erlich of Warner Robins, Ga., also made some noise at the RSCC as she moved into first place in Division 2 Singles with a 682 series.

The 54-year-old right hander fired games of 258, 244 and 180 to reach her leading total. She passed Debra Pahdocony of Shawnee, Okla., who previously held the lead with 667.

Erlich struggled during her team and doubles events but things fell into place as she worked her way up the leaderboard.

"It took me a while to get lined up," said Erlich, who made her fourth Women's Championships appearance. "But when I did, I started with 258. It really shocked me the second game when I had 244. Then, in the third, I started with a spare then had four opens."

With her chance at the lead fading, Erlich took some advice from her doubles partner, Carolyn Helmick, which helped her to four consecutive strikes leading up to the final frame.

"She told me to quit thinking so hard and just throw the ball," Erlich said. "I was shooting for a 700, but that's OK. I'll take this."

Erlich added 523 in doubles and 410 in team for a 1,615 all-events total. Even though she wasn't happy with her performance in the other events, Erlich is relishing her spot at the top of the Division 2 standings.

"I had a 212 in doubles, and that's just about the only one I want to talk about," Erlich said. "I'm used to throwing a bit of a hook, and I had to find my sweet spot, pretty much straight up, with a little bit of hook at the end. I got lucky and found it in singles."

Division 2 features competitors with averages between 175-189. Teams in the Diamond Division have combined entering averages of 725 and above.

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Presenting sponsors for the 2014 USBC Women's Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno.