QUALIFYING | STEPLADDER
WINTER PARK, Fla. - Katelyn Simpson of Emmett, Idaho, finished off the best week of her young career on the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour by winning the 2019 PWBA Orlando Regional on Sunday at Aloma Bowl.
The 24-year-old right-hander claimed her first regional victory by winning three matches in the stepladder finals and defeating top seed Kayla Bandy of Salisbury, Maryland, in the title match, 222-203, to capture the $1,550 top prize.
Simpson, the No. 4 seed, found herself down to Bandy as she stepped up in the eighth and ninth frames, but she rolled a pair of strikes to keep the deficit at three pins.
Bandy, who also was looking for her first regional title, ran into trouble in the ninth, recording an open frame after leaving a 2-10 split. After Bandy was unable to trip a 9 pin on her first shot of the 10th frame, Simpson needed a mark to take the win a rolled a strike.
Simpson made her first championship-round appearance Saturday at the BowlerX.com PWBA Orlando Open, finishing in fifth place, and admitted her strong performance this week couldn't have happened without the help from an honest discussion she had with her team.
"A couple of week ago, I sat down with my ball reps since things were not going very well," said Simpson, a collegiate standout at the University of Pikeville. "We had a really good conversation about the direction I was heading and what I needed to be doing and focusing on. Since then, I've been trying to take what they've said and run with it. I had a decent week (at the Pepsi PWBA Louisville Open) and made it through the (pre-tournament qualifier), and this week I tried to just keep it going. I worked out pretty well."
On her way to the victory, Simpson defeated Danielle Merino of Glendale, New York, in the semifinal, 176-164, and Lauren Pate of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, in the opening match, 217-181.
Simpson's run through the stepladder finals almost didn't happen, however, as she rolled the last four strikes in the final game of qualifying to edge Alyssa Harper of Orange City, Florida, for the final spot by a single pin.
Bandy led qualifying with an eight-game total of 1,763, a 220.37 average. Merino was second with 1,741 and Pate was third with 1,738. Simpson averaged 211 to claim the fourth spot in the stepladder with a 1,688 score.
A total of 58 players rolled eight games Sunday to determine the top four bowlers for the stepladder finals. BowlTV.com provided livestream coverage of the PWBA Orlando Regional.