ARLINGTON, Texas – The Phoenix Fury made the right adjustments but fell short in a late rally Monday against the Dallas Strikers in the divisional semifinals of the Professional Bowlers Association League and have been eliminated from the 2020 event.
After dropping the first game of the Carter Division semifinals to the Strikers, 267-188, the Fury delivered seven strikes in Game 2 but were unable to force a roll-off to continue the match, falling 258-239 to be swept 2-0.
The divisional semifinals of the 2020 PBA League from Bowlero Centreville in Centreville, Virginia, were broadcast live Monday on FS1. The Fury is one of two teams made up entirely of Professional Women’s Bowling Association champions that made their PBA League debuts in 2020.
The Fury lineup included Stefanie Johnson, Maria José Rodriguez, Jordan Richard, Liz Johnson and Shannon O’Keefe.
The Miami Waves, which featured Danielle McEwan, Dasha Kovalova, Clara Guerrero, Liz Kuhlkin and Missy Parkin, were eliminated from the 2020 event Sunday in the Anthony Division quarterfinals by the Brew City Ballers.
The semifinals featured a two-game Baker match, with teams earning one point for each victory. If the match was tied after the second game, a one-ball roll-off, or series of roll-offs, would determine the winner.
In the Baker format, each player only gets to bowl two frames each game.
The Fury players struck on eight of their first nine shots on the left lane Sunday in the opening game of the divisional quarterfinals against the Silver Lake Atom Splitters, but they found a reverse of fortune Monday against Dallas.
After an open in the first frame, the Fury spared the next six frames, before Richard rolled the team’s first strike in the eighth frame. The Strikers, a two-time PBA League champion, had no issues with the 42-foot Mark Roth oil pattern in the opener, delivering strikes on nine of the first 10 shots to take Game 1.
“We really liked the left lane yesterday but ended up having a much better look on the right lane today,” said Fury manager Kim Kearney. “The left lane got pretty cliffed for us, so we tried to use stronger balls to blend it out. With only a few shots of practice, we tried to be smart but may have overthought it. We made the correct adjustments on the right lane and put some really good shots together.”
From the leadoff spot in Game 2, Stefanie Johnson’s first shot on the right lane came in light on the pocket, leaving a 5-8 combination, which she spared. The teammates’ communication based on her shot allowed them to make the proper adjustments, and the Fury put together five consecutive strikes, starting in the fourth frame, to take the lead.
Stepping up in the ninth frame, Liz Johnson had the chance to keep the Fury ahead but left a 10 pin. She converted the spare, but the Strikers had the opportunity for the shutout and victory.
Needing a double and two pins to send the Strikers to the divisional finals, Norm Duke delivered three strikes in the final frame to secure the match.
The Strikers roster in 2020 also includes Tommy Jones, Brad Miller, Nick Pate and Bill O’Neill.
“We hated to see it come to an end,” Kearney said. “We wanted to keep it going, but Dallas is a great team, and we needed a little help from them. Coaching the Fury certainly has been a highlight for me, and I think they really enjoyed competing together, too.”
The Strikers now will face the Las Vegas High Rollers in the Carter Division finals Tuesday. The High Rollers swept the Philadelphia Hitmen to advance, 2-0.
In the Anthony Division semifinals on Monday, the defending Elias Cup champion Portland Lumberjacks swept the L.A. X, 2-0. The Lumberjacks will bowl the Brew City Ballers in the divisional finals Tuesday, after the Ballers defeated the Motown Muscle, 2-1.
In 2020, the 12-team PBA League is made up of the top players from both the PBA Tour and PWBA Tour. The Waves and Fury feature athletes who competed on the PWBA Tour during the 2019 season, finished in the top 35 in the season-long points list and were selected in a formal draft.
Qualifying took place Saturday at Bowlero Centreville and determined the seeding for the match-play brackets. Qualifying consisted of 12 Baker games, including bonus pins, with the top two teams in each six-team division receiving byes into the semifinals.
The quarterfinals for each division were contested Sunday on FS1, and the division finals will air live Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern. The PBA League final will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, also on FS1.
The quarterfinals used the same two-game Baker format as the semifinals, while Wednesday’s championship round will be contested using a best-of-five Baker format to determine the winner of the 2020 Elias Cup.