LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Since the relaunch of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour in 2015, Erin McCarthy of Omaha, Nebraska, has been knocking on the door of becoming a champion, and she walked through Saturday after winning the 2018 PWBA Louisville Open.
McCarthy, the top qualifier, defeated No. 3 seed Maria Jose Rodriguez of Colombia, 259-210, to capture the win at Fern Valley Strike and Spare for her first career PWBA title.
The stepladder finals were streamed live on Xtra Frame, the Professional Bowlers Association’s online bowling channel.
McCarthy came out on fire in the championship match, tossing seven consecutive strikes before a 10 pin ended her run at perfection in the eighth frame. Rodriguez also started strong with three consecutive strikes, but she quickly found herself down after an 8-10 split in the fifth frame.
Rodriguez wouldn’t go away as she countered with strikes in frames six, seven and eight to keep it close, but an open frame in the ninth sealed the victory for McCarthy.
It’s incredible,” said McCarthy, who became the first player this season to win as the No. 1 seed. “I’m still on cloud nine. I’m speechless. You know, Maria made a great shot in the middle of that game and she left an 8-10. It still was a pretty close match depending on what I was going to do, and it kind of just helped take some of the pressure off and allow me to breathe for at least a frame or two. Again, it was a great shot, just a bad break.”
McCarthy is no stranger to stepladder finals, with three top-five finishes since 2015, including two of those finishes coming at major events (2015 United States Bowling Congress Queens and 2017 U.S. Women’s Open). But, this week felt slightly different for McCarthy because she’s been busier with life off the lanes and has only competed in three events.
The 27-year-old right-hander has been busy working two jobs as a registered nurse and enhancing the new home she’s recently purchased. In an odd way, the time away from the PWBA Tour has helped her feel more relaxed, which is different in comparison to previous attempts at winning.
“I’ve just been more relaxed coming into it,” said McCarthy, who is a three-time Team USA member. “I keep myself busy with work, and I just bought a house so that’s been distracting me a bit. I’m not putting as much pressure on myself. I still want to perform to the best of my abilities, but I don’t get down as often. I don’t stress out, so I can stay in the moment and stay true to that statement.”
The busy schedule means McCarthy spends many days at one of the two hospitals she’s employed at, which also means she spends many days with her inquisitive co-workers. Those individuals have helped McCarthy by being supportive of her goals and dreams on the lanes.
“It means a lot to me,” McCarthy said. “My co-workers back home are very supportive and some of them were probably watching. They always ask me about bowling and how it works, and they always want to learn more about the game when I get back home. It kind of makes it easier to compete knowing that they’re behind me 100 percent.”
Rodriguez advanced to the title match by defeating Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, 228-149. McEwan was looking for her second title of the season.
In the opening match, Rodriguez defeated Esther Cheah of Malaysia, 265-168. Cheah was looking for her first career PWBA Tour title.
Competition this week at the PWBA Louisville Open at Fern Valley Strike and Spare included two eight-game qualifying blocks on Friday to determine the 32 players for Saturday's Round of 32. An additional eight-game block Saturday morning narrowed the field to 12 players, who bowled six additional games to determine the stepladder finalists.
The 2018 PWBA Tour season continues next week with the seventh stop of the season at the PWBA Greater Harrisburg Open at ABC West Lanes in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.