Selkirk resident Denise DeCarlo is not afraid to make major changes in her already fundamentally sound game, even though she’s been one of the top female bowlers in the Capital Region over the last several decades.
In fact, after working recently with USBC Gold and Team USA assistant bowling coach Ken Yokobosky of Rockaway Lanes in New Jersey, the Schenectady native has doubled her career total of perfect games from three to six in just one season.
“I can’t believe I’ve had three 300 games already this year after having just three previously,” said DeCarlo, who collected her most recent perfect game a week ago at Town ’N Country Lanes.
“I don’t know why I’m getting so many 300s this year, but I have been taking some lessons. I’ve always worked on my game over the years, but the game has changed so much. I’ve been bowling for a long time, but the game is different now. It’s no longer a down-and-in type of game, which is really my kind of shot. I’m trying to teach myself to move in and play more of a variety of shots.”
Including the late spring and summer, DeCarlo is having one of her finest seasons.
“I was second in all-events at the state tournament to Liz Johnson, and I cashed in the National Queens tournament,” she said. “So far, knock on wood, it’s been a good year. It’s funny, though, because this [fall] season, I didn’t start out so well, but the past week or so, I’m starting to bowl a lot better. I think it’s the lessons and the fact that I’m starting to make the right decisions.”
By no means is DeCarlo a typical house bowler. She competes in three different leagues in three different bowling centers. At Town ’N Country, she averages 223, while at Boulevard Bowl, she is averaging 208. At Del Lanes, where she has bowled for 12 years, she is averaging 207.
“When I go to different bowling houses, I never use the same ball every week. It’s a fishing expedition until I get going,” DeCarlo said. “The biggest thing for me is the way the lanes transition. You have to make the right move to score well. A lot of the time, it’s just carry, whether you can kick out the 10-pin or whether you can avoid leaving a stone 9-pin or 8-pin.”
Although DeCarlo uses Storm products, including a recent purchase of a Nano ball, one of her favorite bowling balls is the Cell Pearl.
“It’s a little older ball, probably about four or five years old, but it’s a good ball for me. That’s the ball I shot my 300 with last week, and it’s also the ball I shot one of my 800 triples with,” she said.
A graduate of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and The College of Saint Rose, DeCarlo is one of the most decorated women bowlers in the region. She is a member of both the New York State Bowling Association and Albany Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
“What I’m most proud of is the fact that membership to both of those Halls of Fame was for years of working on my game, not just for one series I bowled,” she said.
The deputy director for the New York State Assembly Radio and Television Department remembers a time when there were many more leagues for scratch women bowlers.
“Besides the Wednesday league at Towne, there is not that many scratch leagues around for women anymore, and that’s unfortunate,” she said. “I grew up bowling at The Bowlers Club in their Thursday Women’s League, and at one point, we had 22 doubles teams. We had bowlers from the Troy, Schenectady and Albany associations, as well as a couple of people from the Kingston. It’s sad that we don’t have that many women’s leagues anymore.”
DeCarlo, who finished as high as seventh in the annual New York State Queens Tournament, said she expects to compete in the upcoming Huck Finn Barb Leicht Bowers Ladies Classic at Towne Bowling Association, and she hopes to see more entries.
“Economic conditions are tough for so many people, and a lot of the women aren’t confident that they are good enough to compete, but we do have a lot of good women bowlers in the area,” she said.
“I would like to bowl more often myself, but there is never enough time to bowl as much as I would like to. I’m in three leagues now, and I also have another part-time job along with an 11-year-old son, who is also bowling now. There just isn’t enough time.”
The long-awaited PBA Tour’s World Series of Bowling starts today at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas, and according to the tour’s weekly press release, most of the pros are expecting plenty of friction on the lanes, resulting in major moves after transition.
Developing strategies for attacking the variety of lane conditioning patterns and the transition of oil as the day moves along are critical aspects of professional bowling. Every experienced player will arrive at South Point with an arsenal of bowling balls designed to react differently, depending upon the lane conditioning pattern, angle of attack and how much the various “lane oil” patterns will change as each round progresses. It’s always a guessing game, but at the professional level, the bowler who makes the best educated decisions usually comes out ahead of the curve.
While format changes for this year’s World Series have been modified so that all events will be contested on freshly oiled lanes, and fewer games per day are involved, the fundamental challenges from a year ago remain in place.
Following are some of the players’ thoughts about the conditions.
* “The one thing I remember from last year is that South Point hooks,” said 16-time PBA Tour title winner Jason Couch of Clermont, Fla. “I have drilled some weaker balls to combat the friction.”
* “There seemed to be more friction than I would have thought, so I’m hoping to have a little different arsenal with me that will hopefully make me much more competitive this time around,” said two-time PBA Tour winner Jack Jurek of Lackawanna. “I wasn’t bowling well coming into the World Series last year and so far I feel a little better about my game than I did last year this time.”
* “South Point last year had a lot of friction, but every year, the patterns are a little different and the field of players is different and normally better prepared as well,” said Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., a four-time PBA Tour title winner who made two WSOB finals in 2010. “Knowing that I had a lot of success last year in that building will help me. I also have been bowling all over the world to prepare myself for the WSOB and when I’m home, I practice shooting a lot of spares and using different hand positions to be able to play every part of the lane.”
* “I’m hoping to start strong with patterns that suit my game, like the Viper and Chameleon,” said Colombia’s Andres Gomez, “and then make the right adjustments for the last two patterns [Scorpion and Shark] where last year, I didn’t show my best game. We all know how much friction there is. I certainly wouldn’t mind if the lanes hook a lot!”
* “I didn’t really bowl very well last year, so hopefully, I will make much better shots and make better decisions on how to play the lanes,” said PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla.
* “Most people are just trying to not get mauled by the format,” said Dick Allen of Columbia, S.C. “If you are a bowler, it doesn’t matter. Over preparing and trying to do more than you are capable of will usually get you in trouble, physically. Once you get in trouble [at South Point], it goes to your head, so I probably won’t bowl for two weeks before we start. I’ll just wing it when I get there.”
Kicking off the World Series of Bowling today will be an eight-player, winner-take-all $45,000 BowlersDeals.com All-In Showdown that will be webcast live on pba.com’s exclusive online bowling channel, Xtra Frame. Participants will include Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas; Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore.; Joe Paluszek, Bensalem, Pa.; Brian Himmler, Cincinnati; Ronnie Russell, Indianapolis; Bill O’Neill, Southampton, Pa.; Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., and Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C.
Qualifying in the Bayer Viper Open, the first of eight events that will award PBA Tour titles during the two-week festival, gets underway on Saturday. For a complete World Series schedule, visit pba.-com.
STRIKES AND SPARES
* The Northern Bowlers Association will hold its second tournament of the season Sunday at Spare Time-Latham. Action begins at 9:30 a.m., and the format will be a five-game sweeper. Entry fee is $50. Joe Mazuryk, last year’s Cuby Cup winner, won the first event of the season at Town ’N Country Lanes.
* The next Huck Finn/Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York tournament will be the Barb Leicht Bowers Ladies Classic at Towne Bowling Academy. Qualifying will be Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 9:30 and 11:45 a.m., followed by the finals at 1:30 p.m. and the television taping at 6. Top prize will be $1,000, guaranteed.
* In last Sunday’s Huck Finn television taping at Spare Time-Latham, Dan Kryzak and Tim Banta won the two scratch finals.
* The 85-year-old Menagerie league, which bowls Friday nights at 6:15 at Boulevard Bowl, has six openings. Cost per week is $15.
* Following are the winners of the Schenectady-Scotia Women’s Bowling Association’s 500 Club Trick or Treat No-Tap Tournament last weekend at Towne Bowling Association. Nine-pin division — Ursula Pasquerella (859, $52.50), Patricia Barkman (850, $40), Barbara Hutchings (846, $30) and Marie Moorhead (821, $20). Eight-pin division — Dawn Jacob (1,058, $52.50), Jean Badalucco (1,016, $42.50) and Dorothy Foley (1,009, $32.50).
* The inaugural General’s 2 Star Challenge will be held Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. Top prize will be $2,500, guaranteed. One in four bowlers advance from the two qualifying squads on Nov. 12 (noon and 2 p.m.), while one in six advance from the two qualifying squads on Nov. 13 (10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.). The format will be four-game qualifiers to eliminators. Entry fee is $80 or $70 if paid by Sunday. Re-entry is also $70. Call Mark James at 470-8201 for more information.
* The second annual Al Heins No-Tap Tournament to benefit a Scotia-Glenville graduate will be held Nov. 11-12 at Rolling Greens. Handicaps will be based on 75 percent of a 1,100 team average. Entry fee per five-person team is $60. One in 10 teams will cash.
* Sportsman’s Bowl’s Tavern Tournament will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $120 per five-person team. One in six teams will cash. Handicap will be 100 percent of a 220 average. A hot buffet will be included. Call Sportsman’s at 355-4330 for more information.
* Habitat for Humanity’s “Help Build It!” Habitat Bowl-Athon, to benefit Habitat in its mission to build simple decent housing for selected hard-working low income families, will be held Nov. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Sportsman’s Bowl. Sign up as an individual, team captain or team by going to www.schenectadyhabitat.org and follow the links. To bowl, be a corporate sponsor or contribute a silent auction item, call Darlyne at Habitat at 395-3412, ext. 1.
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