ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Despite her young age, Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, New York, has many accomplishments on her resume, and she is considered to be among the best in the sport.
The 25-year-old right-hander added a new item to her growing list of accomplishments Saturday as she qualified for the TV finals of the 2017 Nationwide Professional Women’s Bowling Association Rochester Open, marking the third consecutive event in which she has qualified for the championship round.
McEwan earned the No. 1 seed for the finals of the Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open, outlasting a field of 87 competitors this week at AMF Gates Lanes. She recently qualified for the finals of the PWBA Orlando Open and PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open.
All three TV shows will be taped for delayed broadcast Aug. 6 at Plano Super Bowl in Plano, Texas, in conjunction with the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, the third major for the 2017 PWBA Tour season.
McEwan earned the top seed this week in Rochester based on total pinfall, including bonus pins for each of her wins in match play (5,186), and will be joined in the stepladder by No. 2 seed Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, No. 3 seed Kristina Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, New York, and fourth seed Clara Guerrero of Colombia.
McEwan did not take the overall lead until the position round, where she closed with six strikes to defeat Jacqui Reese of McAdoo, Pennsylvania, 216-189, to top the Group B standings.
McEwan, who competes year-round, hasn’t had a week in off in three years and began to feel something off in her game in February.
With the help of many, and some trial and error, she is close, if not 100 percent back to being one of the best players in the world with two regular-season events remaining on the Tour schedule and international competition at the upcoming World Games in Poland.
“I’ve felt like a completely different person during these last few weeks,” said McEwan, who is searching for her third PWBA Tour title. “All of my confidence lies in my physical game, and I was struggling physically. That affected my mental game, and my confidence followed. Now that I’m hitting what I’m looking at consistently, my confidence is up, and I’m stepping on the approach knowing where the ball is going. I’m not saying I hope it goes in the right direction. I know what I’m doing now.”
Pluhowsky entered the Group A position round trailing leader Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, by 72 pins, and the two faced off in the final game to see who would advance to television.
Pluhowsky strung together five consecutive strikes between frames four and eight to pull ahead early, but Parkin still had a chance to advance to the TV finals with two strikes in her final frame.
Parkin struck on the first shot, but a 5 pin on her next offering ended her run, allowing Pluhowsky to move into the lead in the Group A standings with a 5,183 total, two pins ahead of Parkin. Pluhowsky fell three pins shy of McEwan for the No. 1 seed.
“I was checking my score to make sure it was right, so it didn’t really sink in right away,” said Pluhowsky, who finished third at the season-opening QubicaAMF PWBA Sonoma County Open. “Now that it has, it’s relaxing. This was a grueling week. The lanes were hard, and they’ve been hard all year, so just to get back to TV when they’re hard is awesome.”
Szczerbinski earned her first PWBA TV appearance by defeating Parkin in the Group A stepladder final, 198-179. Szczerbinski almost let the moment get away from her, leaving a Greek Church in the ninth frame, but Parkin was unable to capitalize on the error.
In the past, a split in the ninth frame could’ve derailed Szczerbinski but an improved mental game helped her realize her dream.
“I’m getting emotional just thinking about it,” Szczerbinski explained. “It has been a struggle for me this year, and when I left the Greek Church, it hurt me a bit. Stepping up in the 10th, even though I knew I didn’t need a strike, being able to walk up and throw that strike meant a lot. It really solidified my overall performance for the week.
“My mental game has been something I’ve struggled with in the past. There have been plenty of times when I knew I needed to throw a strike and didn’t because mentally, I wasn’t there. Today, I really focused on controlling my breathing, keeping my mind present and staying in the moment, and that was the biggest difference.”
Szczerbinski knocked off Katelyn Simpson of Emmett, Idaho, 212-181, to advance to the Group A final.
For the second consecutive week, Guerrero qualified for television as the fourth seed, this time besting Reese in the Group B stepladder final, 216-194. Last week, at the PWBA St. Petersburg-Clearwater Open, she earned her first TV finals berth of the season.
Guerrero advanced to the Group B final by defeating Valerie Bercier of Derry, New Hampshire, 202-187.
Competition this week at the Nationwide PWBA Rochester Open included two six-game qualifying blocks Friday at AMF Gates Lanes to determine the 32 players for Saturday's cashers’ round.
An additional six-game block Saturday morning narrowed the field from the 32 cashers to 12 players for round-robin match play.
The 2017 PWBA Tour season continues with the U.S. Women’s Open, the third major of the season, July 31-Aug.6 at Plano Super Bowl in Plano, Texas.
Go to PWBA.com for more information about the PWBA Tour. Qualifying and match-play rounds of PWBA Tour events are broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association.