Simpson wins 2023 PWBA Spokane Regional

Simpson wins 2023 PWBA Spokane Regional

SPOKANE, Wash. – Less than 24 hours after Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, captured her third Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour title by winning the 2023 PWBA GoBowling! Spokane Open, Lilac Lanes & Casino was ready to crown another champion.

This time, it was Katelyn Simpson of Nampa, Idaho, who emerged victorious as she defeated top seed Kerry Smith of Lititz, Pennsylvania, 247-226, during Sunday night’s stepladder finals to win the 2023 PWBA Spokane Regional.

The win gave Simpson her second career PWBA regional title – her first came at the 2019 PWBA Orlando Regional – and allowed her to walk away with the $1,500 first-place prize.

Smith earned $750 for her runner-up finish.

For Simpson, the win meant ending her week in Spokane on a high note.

“I didn’t have a super-great week at the national stop a couple days ago, which was kind of a letdown, so it feels really good to come out here today, execute really well and come away with the win,” Simpson said.  

Only Simpson is qualified to assess how much better she executed from one day to the next, but the numbers make it crystal clear that something definitely improved for her between Friday and Sunday.

During Friday’s two rounds of qualifying at the PWBA GoBowling! Spokane Open, Simpson broke 200 just five times in 12 games, which caused her to end the day with a 198.33 average and finish in 41st place, missing the cut.

On Sunday, Simpson qualified third in the 38-player field at the PWBA Spokane Regional, averaging 231.64 and breaking 200 during all 11 games she bowled. Her lowest game on the day was 216.

Besides the improved execution that she already mentioned, Simpson also attributed Sunday’s success to her having matched up very well with the regional’s 35-foot oil pattern.

“I typically like when there’s more friction, so I was able to see the picture pretty clearly all day,” Simpson said. “I only used three different balls today, and, thankfully, they struck enough.”

It certainly appeared as if plenty of strikes would be needed during the stepladder finals as both Smith and No. 2 qualifier Mallory Clark of Auburn, Maine, recorded a 299 during qualifying.

Nevertheless, once the finals began, it was Simpson who always seemed to be riding a string of strikes.

Simpson struck on five of her first six shots and eight times total while taking down No. 4 seed Justyne Vukovich of New Stanton, Pennsylvania, 222-194, in Match 1.

Vukovich finished in fourth place and took home $500.

Not content to rest on her laurels, Simpson upped her total to nine strikes during her semifinal tilt with Clark, and she’d need every one of them too.

Clark actually led the match early on, using an opening double and a four-bagger in frames four through seven to establish an 18-pin advantage with just three frames to go.

Disaster struck Clark in the eighth frame, however, as a high shot resulted in a 4-7-10 split that she could not convert.

She would recover by striking out to post a final score of 244, but the open frame left the door open wide open for Simpson.

As champions usually do, the talented-righthander walked right through, finishing the game with a five-bagger of her own to eliminate Clark by a final score of 247-244 and punch her ticket to the title match.

The loss sent Clark home with a third-place finish and $600.

When the championship match started, it was clear that Simpson had no interest in playing from behind again.

To prove that point, she opened the game with a four-bagger before a solid 10-pin halted her string; nevertheless, she converted the spare and then doubled in the sixth and seventh to keep the pressure firmly on Smith’s shoulders.

The top seed stayed strong, notching her own double in frames five and six and then carding a turkey in the eighth, ninth and 10th to keep herself within striking distance of Simpson.

However, the run ended when Smith’s 11th shot came in light and left the 2-8. She’d take one pin on the conversion attempt, causing her to finish with a 226 total.

That meant that Simpson would just need to mark in the 10th frame in order to capture the title.

To nobody’s surprise, Simpson’s mark of choice was a strike, which officially made her the 2023 PWBA Spokane Regional champion.

Simpson would finish her 10th frame off with two additional strikes to make the final score 247-226.

During her three games in the stepladder finals, Simpson averaged 238.67 and struck on 26 out of 35 shots.

Nevertheless, Simpson wasn’t keeping score or tracking stats in her head as each match came down the stretch; she kept her focus on one shot at a time.

“I was trying to stay in the moment and just control what I could control,” Simpson said. “That’s what I did, and it all worked out.”

Another thing that worked out for Simpson is that by winning the Spokane Open, she earned herself a spot in the season-ending PWBA Regional Showdown in December.

Simpson wasn’t aware that a Regional Showdown berth was on the line when competition began Sunday; nevertheless, winning that spot helped make her latest victory just that much sweeter.

“The Regional Showdown sounds like a really cool opportunity,” Simpson said. “I was trying to stay in the moment and not really think about that while I was competing, but now that I’ve won, it’s definitely a nice perk.”

The field at the Regional Showdown will feature 16 players. Each regional champion in 2023 will automatically be seeded into match play at the event while the rest of the field will be determined through an eight-game qualifying round that will be open to all PWBA Regional-eligible bowlers.

The 16 players will compete in round-robin match play before the field is cut to the final four bowlers for the stepladder finals. The winner of the Regional Showdown will receive paid entries into all singles events on the 2024 PWBA National Tour schedule.

The next PWBA Regional event will be June 11 at the PWBA Cleveland Regional. The tournament will be held at Yorktown Lanes in Parma Heights, Ohio, one day after competition concludes at the 2023 PWBA Bowlers Journal Cleveland Open.

Categories: Tournaments, Players
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