TEMPERANCE – “Yahtzee!”
Nataleigh Eagle pumped both arms into the air with what’s become her trademark victory shout after bowling five-straight strikes. The packed crowd at Forest View Lanes in Temperance celebrated along with Eagle, who was on a roll to start her final game of the day.
“Yahtzee. That’s one of my favorites,” Eagle said. “Usually once or twice a week I’ll get one of those. That’s one of my favorite cheers ever to do.”
Yahtzee is great for five. But what about six? Seven?
Eagle will need some new catchphrases in the future if she can repeat the performance she put on Wednesday.
The Monroe High senior strung together a personal-best seven straight strikes to start her second game of match play against Bedford. She finished with with spares in the next three frames, coming just short of her career-high to lead the Trojans to a 20-10 victory.
PHOTO GALLERY: Monroe vs Bedford bowling at Forest View Lanes
Monroe’s girls maintained their hold on the Southeastern Conference Red, while Bedford’s boys defeated Monroe 26-4 to move into a tie for first place with the Trojans.
Eagle’s 254 game was the highest score of the day on both sides of the lanes.
“I’ve bowled six strikes maybe 10 or 12 times, but never seven,” Eagle said. “I was very nervous. After six or seven, my hands get shaky, my feet get shaky, and my hands get really swelled up.”
Even the seventh strike had Eagle holding her breath as the 9-pin threatened to hold its position. She let out a sight of relief when it was finally toppled in the ricochet.
“The pin was standing there and then I saw one of the other pins spinning in circles, and once it hit it I was so excited because I’ve never had seven in a row before,” she said. “It was a really exciting moment. Really lucky.”
The next frame ended her streak as only eight pins fell on her first throw and she had to settle for the spare. She also had spares in the ninth and tenth.
“My finger stuck too much to the ball and I pulled it and it wasn’t good from there,” said Eagle, who was forced to quiet her disappointment and refocus quickly on rest of the game. “The most important thing about bowling is to pick up your spares. Strikes will come, but spares are way more important.”
Eagle was a little below her 190.14 average in the first game with a 181. But she finished strong to set up her heroics in the next match.
“She bowled good today for sure,” Monroe coach Eric Pillette said. “Anybody that shoots 250 has earned it. She took what she learned from the first game. She finished strong in the 10th frame and lined herself up and then threw seven in a row. She got a little fast on the eighth one. At least she was able to make her spares out. It was a good game for her.”
Eagle wasn’t the only one to soar for the Trojans.
After splitting the baker games, Monroe was looking for stronger individual performances to build its lead. Senior Rachel Folger and sophomore Patricia Reaume both bowled above their averages to answer the call.
Folger bowled 170-154 and Reaume had games of 154-136 to earn critical points for Monroe. Coming into the day, Folger averaged 128.25 and Reaume 123.75.
“It was very well needed because the team did not have its best day,” Pillette said. “It could’ve gone the other way if they don’t hit their averages. They not only hit it but exceeded it by a lot.”
Monroe’s Teagen Pillette also earned a point with a 161 game. Monroe improved to 8-2 and take on Ypsilanti Lincoln Monday. A win over Lincoln would put Monroe in control of his own fate in search of the team’s sixth-straight league title.
“They beat us the first time,” coach Pillette said. “If we beat them, we give ourselves a shot for at least a tie of the league title.”
Bedford’s Laci Macquisten had a 222 game to lead the Mules. Macquisten’s 204 average leads all bowlers in the SEC.
“Overall, I’m happy with our performance,” Bedford girls coach Cheyenne Long said. “We’ve had a couple days off, probably closer to a week, so to see the girls working and fighting for the match was awesome. We have a lot of new girls this season and they’ve all improved so much. Even though we lost tonight, I’d say score-wise this may be one of our best matches we’ve had all season.”
Ally Shaloup bowled 143-129 to earn points in both of her individual matches, and Cara Bursztynski had her second-highest game of the season with a 132.
Bedford’s boys moved into a tie with Monroe for first place in the SEC while avenging an earlier loss this season to the Trojans. Monroe won the first meeting 17-13.
“That was a tight one,” Pillette said. “The score was 17-13, but it was closer than that even. It went down to the last ball.”
Wednesday’s match was far more decisive. Bedford claimed both baker games to put Monroe into an early 10-0 hole. The Trojans only patched together four points in match play.
“Big game. Big win,” Bedford coach Austin Pier said. “Last time we played them was week one, so coming into a brand new season against a good team on the road was tough. … We’ve had a lot of changes. Everybody’s pulling their weight now.”
Senior Logan Cook led Bedford, bowling above his 188.25 average to win both of his matches with games of 191 and 210.
“First game, I wasn’t pulling through my shot and then I finally found my line at the end. It felt good to finally get it there,” Cook said. “Last game, I threw a couple bad shots, but I ended up pulling through and got it to the pocket.”
Cooper Greuling bowled 226-179, Sam Greuling had a 203, and Jonathan Trombley and Kaiden Coberley also earned points for Bedford.
“We’ve definitely grown as a team, all seven of us on varsity,” Cook said. “We’re definitely growing that chemistry and we’re all brothers out there. When we get each other pumped, we all do better.”
Bedford is chasing its third straight league title.
“It was a very big game,” Cook added. “We knew what we had to do and we did it. Monroe is a really good team. We knew we had to bowl good, there’s no doubt about that, but we know we’re a good team and we can all bowl really high games.”
Richard Kmiec (197-161), Xander Bunch (195-163) and Evan Eagle (172-181) led Monroe.
“Xander and Richard were the only ones to hit average,” Pillette said. “Thank God they did that or it wouldn’t have even been as close as it was. It was a disappointing setback, but it doesn’t do anything to our goals for the season. We still hold the ability to do what we set out to do and that’s win the SEC Red.”