|Ladies All-Star finalists (left to right): Janet Sauter, Jen DiStefano, Kristy Penny (champion), Tammy Ashworth, and Patty Palmer|
The 2012 Ladies All Star Classic kicked off its 31st year in existence on the weekend of March 16th and 17th, and this year something new occurred for the event's history. Baltimore, Maryland's Kristy Penny came up with the heralded 'repeat' referred to in sports as she successfully defended her crown in a rousing 165-158 victory over Waldorf, Maryland's Tammy Ashworth.
A hearty field of 91 entrants graced the lanes during the Saturday qualifying round at AMF Westview, and from that grouping, 24 finalists advanced to the Sunday head-to-head competition. A stout 132 average was needed to qualify with the cut score being 925, the final spot captured by Baltimore's Adele Asimenios.
Initially answering the call in the role of defending champion, Penny was the only qualifier to go 5-0, rolling the highest 5-game pinfall total of all the ladies with a 769 semi-final total.
Hampstead, Maryland's Patty Palmer didn't lose a game either during the match play round, and was seeded 2nd with 4½ wins against a half loss on the basis of a tie with Catonsville, Maryland's Andrea Lanahan. It would be this tie game that would come back to haunt Lanahan, as Parkville's Janet Sauter, who went 4-1 in the division, would slip into 2nd place ahead of Andrea's 3½ wins, and thus attain the wildcard spot.
Former youth standout from the Greater Washington Youth Duckpin Travel League, and now Cranston, Rhode Island resident, Jennifer DiStefano, topped her division with a 4-1 record and hefty 763 pinfall total, earning the 3rd seed for the stepladder finals.
Tammy Ashworth, the newly elected president of the Women's National Duckpin Association, rounded out the division winners, scratching and clawing her way to a 4-1 record and the 4th seed position on the ladder.
Game 1 of the stepladder saw Ashworth come out the gate smoking against Sauter, marking with heavy counts in her first 4 frames and at the halfway point, Tammy held a 21-pin advantage. Ashworth added to her edge in the latter stages of the game to comfortably finish up with a 152-125 victory.
In the next match, Ashworth would take on Jen DiStefano. Understandably, the experience edge went to Tammy in the encounter, as it took Jen a little while to get on the board with marks. After a minor slump from Ashworth in the 4th and 5th boxes, and a surge from DiStefano, the match was almost knotted by the 5th frame, with Tammy leading by 2 pins. However, a double-header from Ashworth in the 6th and 7th frames vs. a couple of unconverted 10 pins for spares from her opponent broke the game open for Tammy, as she tamed the young lioness from the north with a 142-122 victory.
With half her job done on her way to a possible crowning as Ladies All Star champ, Ashworth would now face the seasoned veteran, Patty Palmer. The match ensued in a somewhat dismal fashion, with neither woman asserting herself, and by the 5th frame, Ashworth held a 59-55 lead over Palmer. Business began to pick in the next 2 frames, and Palmer took temporary control, leading by 8 pins after the 7th. Tammy spared in the 8th but didn't do much with the count, and with a score of 109 in the 9th, she left the door open for Palmer to do some major damage. Patty's 102 score after 8 frames meant that she needed either 2 healthy marks to close out the match, or one mark with a big count in her last 2 frames to put Ashworth on a double. Historically, Palmer has taken advantage of similar situations, but this time she fell short of the mark, opening her last 2 boxes, ending with a 121.
Finishing last, Tammy now needed only a mark to win the encounter. Her first ball in the 10th frame was strong, leaving a 10-pin. Ashworth took her time, and convincingly nailed the spare, and applied a perfect pitch for a 9-count to come away with a gritty 128-121 triumph.
The championship match had arrived and Ashworth had run the gauntlet to get there, but would have her work cut out for her, facing the undefeated and confident Kristy Penny.
Ashworth opened the contest with a bit of a letdown from her dramatic finish in the prior game by going past a 7-pin single. Penny, on the other hand, suffered no ill-affects from the lengthy wait to bowl from the top seed position, as she posted a quick double-header. Kristy was razor-sharp as she would convert the 4-7 spare in the 3rd, and then pick up three consecutive single pin spares. After seeing Penny's fast start, Ashworth then bared down and summoned her "A" game once again, responding to the pressure by sparing in 4 of the next 6 frames. Kristy was comfortably ahead by 39 pins after 6 frames, but then the edge seemed to wear off. She was off the mark on her count ball in the 7th, but left and converted a headpin single. Running out of gas, Penny's next 3 frames would be uneventful as she labored toward the finish line. Meanwhile, Tammy put on a charge in the 7th, 8th, and 9th boxes with 2 spares and then a foundation strike. Penny finished with a 165 game, and now Ashworth, with a score of 122 in the 8th and a strike in the 9th, was incredibly back in the match. Needing a strike on her first ball in the 10th, Tammy was one ball away from successfully climbing the ladder for the "All-Star" title. Ashworth faced the challenge in the 10th frame but was narrowly off target, falling shy on a glorious comeback attempt.
Tammy finished admirably with a 158 score, but Kristy was sharper in the early going, amassing enough offense to complement her dominating performance from earlier in the day to repeat as Ladies All-Star champ.
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