SPOKANE, Wash. – Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, is far from the most outspoken player on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour; nevertheless, if there’s one thing she isn’t shy about expressing, it’s how much she cares for her parents and how big an impact they’ve had on her bowling career.
As such, it somehow seems fitting that Richard captured her latest title on the eve of Mother’s Day.
Richard won that title, the third of her PWBA Tour career, by defeating top seed Erin McCarthy of Elkhorn, Nebraska, 234-153, during Saturday night’s stepladder finals at the 2023 PWBA GoBowling! Spokane Open, which was contested at Lilac Lanes & Casino in Spokane.
The win allowed Richard to walk away with the $20,000 first-place prize and championship trophy. McCarthy earned $10,000 for finishing second.
Shortly after collecting her latest victory, her first since 2019 when she won the PWBA Lincoln Open at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska, Richard was asked to discuss what allowed her to reach the winner’s circle once again.
Not surprisingly, she immediately gave the credit to mom and dad.
“I get to do what I do because my parents raised me to be disciplined, and I’ve kept that throughout my entire life,” Richard said. “My parents are amazing, and I’m lucky and fortunate that I have them because they’re the most supportive people in my life. I wish that they were here, but I’ll get to see them tomorrow.”
Had they been in attendance at Lilac Lanes & Casino on Saturday night, Richard’s parents would have seen their daughter put on quite a show.
The 27-year-old right-hander began the evening as the No. 3 seed for the stepladder finals, but once she hit the championship pair, it was clear that she was going to be tough to beat.
Richard’s first opponent was rookie Hope Gramly of Aubrey, Texas, who earned her spot in the bout by defeating 2021 PWBA Player of the Year Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona, 202-195, during Match 1.
Gramly would up her score to 215 during Match 2, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Richard struck on six of her first seven shots and eight times overall to cruise to a 245-215 victory and earn herself a berth in the semifinals.
The fourth-place finish won Gramly $6,500. Coté collected $5,500 for finishing fifth.
Saturday night’s semifinal bout would pit Richard up against No. 2 seed Dasha Kovalova of Muskegon, Michigan, in what would turn out to be the match of the night.
Kovalova, a five-time PWBA Tour titlist and the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Queens champion, started strike-spare, strike-spare to grab an early five-pin lead.
Richard didn’t take long to respond, however, throwing a four-bagger in frames four through seven to turn the tide and establish a 14-pin advantage of her own with three frames to go.
Kovalova didn’t give up, delivering crucial strikes in the seventh, eighth and ninth to keep the pressure on.
Nevertheless, as Richard stepped up for her ninth and 10th frames, the match was hers to win.
If she could strike out, she’d finish at 244, which would lock out Kovalova, whose max score was 240.
Things wouldn’t play out that smoothly, however, as Richard’s shots in both the ninth and 10th frames went high on the headpin.
Thankfully for Richard, both shots left makeable spares – the 3-6 and the 6-10 – that she converted.
With the opportunity to shut Kovalova out having gone by the wayside, the best Richard could do was strike on her fill ball to force her opponent to throw the first strike in the 10th frame to win.
Richard did just that, delivering the key strike on her final ball to post a score of 220.
At that point, all Richard could do was wait and watch.
If Kovalova struck on her next shot, she would win, and Richard would have to settle for a third-place finish to go along with the runner-up performance she authored at last week’s season-opener, the PWBA Stockton Open.
It wasn’t meant to be for Kovalova on this night, however, as the crucial shot hooked high through the face, leaving a 3-6-7-10 split.
She took two pins on the conversion attempt, which made the final score 220-202 in favor of Richard, who advanced to the title match to face McCarthy.
Kovalova took home $7,500 for finishing third.
The final match of the night wouldn’t prove nearly as exciting as the one that came before it as McCarthy, who led the field after Day 1 and never relinquished the lead throughout the rest of qualifying, simply never found her way on the championship pair.
The two-time PWBA Tour titlist and reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion opened three of the first five frames, which allowed Richard to jump out to a 35-pin lead at the halfway point of the match.
McCarthy did her best to hang tough, but once Richard delivered strikes in the sixth, seventh and eighth frames, the outcome was determined; the title belonged to Richard, and, to her, it felt like a long time coming.
“I feel relieved. Even though I had won twice before, it had been four years since I’d gotten it done, so it feels good to get that monkey off my back,” Richard said. “I’m excited and happy that it all clicked today; it almost feels like my first title all over again.”
Things certainly clicked pretty well for Richard during Saturday night’s stepladder finals as she put up a three-game total of 699 (a 233 average) by shooting scores of 245, 220 and 234.
But more importantly, things have clicked well for Richard during each of the first two weeks of the 2023 PWBA Tour season as a whole as she already has a win and second-place finish under her belt.
She’d love to keep the momentum going next week at the season’s first major, the 2023 USBC Queens, which will be contested at Sam’s Town Bowling Center in Las Vegas from May 17-23.
However, part of Richard’s early-season success can be attributed to looking at each event as a new opportunity, so she has no designs on changing that approach anytime soon.
“I’ve just been trying to keep an open mind and not try to prove anything to anybody. Every week is a new week, and I just have to take it that way,” Richard said. “I can have good weeks and bad weeks, but as long as I focus on just putting one foot in front of the other, I’ll be okay.”
The winner of the 2023 Queens will take home $60,000. All rounds of competition leading up to the stepladder finals will be broadcast live on BowlTV.
The stepladder finals will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network on May 23 at 7 p.m. Eastern.
The 78-player field in Spokane bowled 12 games Friday before the first cut to the top 26 athletes. Advancers bowled an additional six-game block Saturday morning with the top 12 competing in a final six-game round to determine the five bowlers for the stepladder, based on 24-game pinfall totals.
All rounds of competition at the Spokane Open, including the stepladder finals, were broadcast live at BowlTV.com.