Stefanie Johnson earns top seed at 2018 QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship


PLANO, Texas
- Competing in front of family and friends, hometown favorite Stefanie Johnson of McKinney, Texas, locked up the top spot for the stepladder finals Friday at the 2018 QubicaAMF Professional Women's Bowling Association Players Championship.

Johnson posted a 13-5 record during round-robin match play at Plano Super Bowl on her way to an 8,327 total, including bonus pins, and she'll be joined in Saturday's finals by Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York (8,038), Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey (8,023), Jordan Richard of Tecumseh, Michigan (7,944), and Lindsay Boomershine of Perry, Utah (7,926).

The stepladder finals for the PWBA Players Championship, the third major championship of the 2018 season, will be broadcast live Saturday on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m. Eastern. The winner will claim the $20,000 top prize.

Johnson, a 34-year-old right-hander, has made the championship round in each of the three majors this season, recording a fourth-place finish at the United States Bowling Congress Queens in May and a runner-up finish in June at the U.S. Women's Open.

Johnson felt right at home on her way to the top seed for the stepladder finals at the U.S. Women's Open, which was held at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Florida, and feels just as comfortable at this week's host center.

Johnson bowled and worked at Boardwalk Bowl while attending the University of Central Florida, and now works at Plano Super Bowl.

"It's really hard to put into words because it's overwhelming," said Johnson, a two-time PWBA Tour champion. "I didn't win at the U.S. Women's Open, but I think all you can do is put yourself in position to win. I'm here again, at a new event with a new hometown crowd, and it's really exciting. My family is going to be here, and they're the reason I get to do what I love to do."

Johnson thrived in match play Friday, averaging more than 222 to lead by nearly 300 pins. She plans to stick to her routine in hopes of claiming her first major championship.

"I'm not going to approach tomorrow any differently," said Johnson, the 2015 PWBA Rookie of the Year. "I'm going to watch what the lanes are doing and try to quickly make decisions, just like I did to get here. I hope tomorrow I can come out on top."

Richard_250In addition to making her fourth consecutive television appearance, Richard's performance this week in Plano also helped her secure PWBA Rookie of the Year honors for the 2018 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander missed the first three events of the season as she concluded her collegiate career at Arkansas State University but made five championship-round appearances in the final nine events, including a win at the PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open.

"I knew I wasn't going to be able make the first couple of stops and was going to be behind in points, but I didn't want to focus on that," Richard said. "I knew if I bowled well, I could get there. This is something I've wanted since the tour relaunched, but I really don't think winning will set in for a while."

Kulick and Boomershine will return to the stepladder finals at the PWBA Players Championship for the second consecutive year Saturday. Kulick was the runner-up at the 2017 event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, while Boomershine finished third.

All competitors at the PWBA Players Championship bowled 18 games of qualifying Thursday to determine the 18 players advancing to round-robin match play.

Friday's match-play rounds featured 18 games, including a position round. Players received 30 bonus pins for each win and 15 bonus pins for a tie. After 36 games, total pinfall, including bonus pins, determined Saturday's finalists.

All rounds leading up to the stepladder finals were broadcast on BowlTV, the official YouTube channel of the USBC.

The QubicaAMF PWBA Players Championship is the third of four major championships on the 2018 PWBA Tour schedule, and the final event before the season-ending PWBA Tour Championship in September.

The PWBA Players Championship only is open to PWBA members.