Area bowlers handle stress


Pressure. It’s something that all athletes at one time or another experience. Some athletes thrive on it, some break under its weight.

In baseball, it can be at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth down by one run with two runners on base. In basketball, it can be a last-second shot to win the game.

For Hubbard’s Brittany Ferrara, it was two frames for Hubbard’s survival at the state tournament.

The Eagles had advanced to the championship round, but was on the brink of going home, falling 2-1 in a best-of-five baker game series to Sidney. The pressure was getting to the Eagles. Bowlers were shedding tears, the spares weren’t falling and it could be felt by many at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl that this could be the end of the Hubbard Eagles’ run.

In the fourth game, after 10 frames, the score was tied at 168. That meant the game came down to a rolloff – one bowler for each team bowling a ninth and 10th frame to determine the winner.

Many wondered if Hubbard coach Carol Kozbial would tap senior Jenna Wise for the duty of bowling the rolloff. Wise had been the most consistent bowler all day for the Eagles. But Kozbial went with senior Brittany Ferrara for the job, which was just fine with Wise.

“I was so glad when coached picked Brittany and not me,” Wise said. “I can’t handle that kind of pressure, but Brittany thrives on it.”

Once she heard her name called, Ferrara knew what she had to do.

“I have never been in a situation like that before,” Ferrara said. “But when I was picked for it, I said to myself, ‘Let’s go. I can’t give up on my team because they are counting on me now.’ “

With her team’s fate in her hands, Ferrara approached the lane.

First ball: Strike.

Second ball: Strike.

Ferrara threw a seven and a two on her last two balls, but the game already went to Hubbard as Sidney’s bowler threw a nine and picked up the spare. With those shots, the Eagles had new life.

That rolloff was the turnaround for the Eagles, as they went on to place second in the state for the third year in a row.

Then there was Canfield freshman bowler Andrew Letscher during Saturday’s boys’ state final.

Letscher has been around bowling his entire life, as his family owns McKinley Lanes in Niles, and he has participated in numerous junior tournaments already in his career.

However, standing on the lane in the 10th frame, knowing he needed a strike to give his team a state title was a pressure-situation he had yet to feel so far during his young career.

He threw the strike. He had just threw the game-clinching shot to give his team a state title.

“I knew if I threw a strike, we would win,” Letscher said. “So I was a little nervous knowing that I had to throw a strike, and it was probably the best shot I’ve thrown all day. After that it just hit me, ‘We won state.’ “

Pressure situations like that don’t come every day, and very few high school athletes ever are put into those situations. But Ferrrara and Letscher both showed poise and a calm beyond their years – and it proved to be all the difference for their teams.