By Daniel Farish and Aaron Smith
ORLANDO, Fla. - Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, capped off outstanding performances on the Professional Women's Bowling Association regional tour in 2019 by capturing the Go Bowling! PWBA Regional Showdown title.
The Go Bowling! PWBA Regional Showdown was taped at Boardwalk Bowl on Aug. 17 and aired Saturday on CBS Sports Network.
Bond defeated former collegiate teammate Gazmine Mason of Cranston, Rhode Island, 441-420, in the two-game total-pinfall contest to claim the $6,000 top prize in the made-for-TV event showcasing the top performers on the PWBA regional tour. Mason received $4,000 for the runner-up finish.
"I think this is a very positive end to my rookie season," said Bond, who's in the running for PWBA Rookie of the Year for the 2019 season. "I felt like I had a lot of good moments this year, but there were disappointments, too. I feel like this regional win sets a nice, positive tone for the future of my career."
Bond, who teamed with Mason to help the University of Nebraska capture the 2015 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women's Bowling Championship, grabbed the early lead in the two-game match by taking Game 1, 247-233.
Despite the flurry of strikes in the opening game, both players made a ball change heading into the final game.
"I wasn't in love with my ball reaction," said Bond, a three-time Team USA member. "I know sometimes you can get into trouble trying to chase the perfect ball reaction, but I felt that ball was going a little too long and I had less and less room. Looking at Gazmine's ball reaction, I felt like if I could get closer to that I would like to. I made the ball change in the 10th frame and finally saw the pocket open up a little bit for me."
Bond would open two of the first four frames in Game 2, including a missed 5 pin in the fourth frame, allowing Mason to take the overall lead. The 23-year-old right-hander responded to the slow start with three consecutive strikes starting in the fifth frame, while Mason left splits in the sixth and seventh frames she was unable to convert.
Bond sealed the victory with a strike to start her 10th frame.
"After the missed 5 pin, I was very frustrated for a couple of seconds," Bond said. "But, we were only halfway through the game. I still had five frames to go, and I knew I had to keep pushing and mentally buckle down."
Including the Go Bowling! PWBA Regional Showdown, Bond captured the top spot in each of the three PWBA regional events she was part of in the 2019 season. She was victorious at the PWBA Lincoln Regional and PWBA Sonoma County Regional to earn her place in the Regional Showdown.
Mason, who won the PWBA East Hartford Regional, advanced to the finals by defeating Elise Bolton of Merritt Island, Florida, in the knockout-style championship round, 217-214.
Mason bounced back from a pair of open frames to deliver the final six strikes to shut out Bolton. Bolton had earned her spot at the Regional Showdown by winning the PWBA Greater Cleveland Regional in April.
Bond, the top overall seed for the event, managed to hang onto a 214-204 win against Kayla Bandy of Salisbury, Maryland, to advance to the championship round. Bond could have shut out Bandy with a strike on her fill ball, but an eight count gave Bandy a window.
Bandy, needing three strikes in the 10th to win by a pin, delivered the first strike before leaving a 10 pin on her second offering. Bandy earned the final spot in the Regional Showdown based on her accumulated prize winnings in PWBA regional competition in 2019.
Bolton and Bandy each received $2,500 for their semifinal appearance.
The four spots for the Go Bowling! PWBA Regional Showdown were determined through four regional events throughout the 2019 PWBA Tour season - PWBA Greater Cleveland Regional, PWBA Lincoln Regional, PWBA Sonoma County Regional, PWBA East Hartford Regional.
Spots were reserved for the winners of each event (players had to be PWBA Tour members at the time of victory to be eligible), and additional spots were determined through prize winnings, which also determined the seeding for the event.