RENO, Nev. - Lindsay Baker of Brigham City, Utah, highlighted an exciting day at the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships as she took the lead in three events at the National Bowling Stadium on Friday.
The 26-year-old right-hander began her day by teaming with two-time Junior Team USA member Elysia Current of Ephrata, Pa., to roll the third-highest doubles score in USBC Women's Championships history, 1,480, which was enough to take the top spot in Scratch and Diamond Doubles.
Baker led the way with a 784 series, while Current, who was the runner-up at the 2011 USBC Queens, added 696. Team USA's Shannon Pluhowsky and Megan Kelly of Dayton, Ohio, previously held the Scratch lead with 1,464, and Takiko Naganawa of Japan and Sadie Oda of Seal Beach, Calif., saw their two-month run at the top of Diamond Doubles with 1,469 come to an end. The highest doubles total in tournament history (1,498) was posted by USBC Hall of Famer Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, and Lynda Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, on the way to the Classic Doubles title in 2004.
Baker, the 2005-06 NCAA Collegiate Bowler of the Year at the University of Nebraska, added 735 in singles and 707 in team to also take the lead in Scratch All-Events with 2,226, the third highest all-events total in tournament history. Pam Pancoast of Lomita, Calif., who rolled one of four 300 games this year, previously led Scratch All-Events with 2,219. Jodi Woessner of Oregon, Ohio, set the all-events mark at the 2010 Women's Championships in El Paso, Texas, on her way to the Scratch and Diamond All-Events titles with 2,330.
Baker entered the 2012 event with a 216 average and received an additional four pins of handicap per game, which helped her into second place in Diamond All-Events with a 2,262 handicap total. Joyce Biondo of Carpentersville, Ill., a 2011 Diamond Team champion, leads Diamond All-Events this year with 2,269.
Unlike most competitors at the Women's Championships, Baker elected to compete in her team, doubles and singles events all in the same day. The unique schedule had Baker finish with her team event, and she found herself needing the first two strikes in the final frame to take the all-events lead. The former Professional Bowlers Association Women's Series competitor delivered three strikes for a 279 game.
"I took a big, deep breath and just tried not to spin it because that's my downfall," said Baker, who made her third Women's Championships appearance. "I knew going into the last game I would have to bowl a big game because I started team with 183. I just wanted to make good shots and make my spares and hoped it would all work out. I've practiced so hard to get up to this point, and it's really great to finally have success coming to these tournaments. I'm overwhelmed, really. I can't even believe it."
After competing against each other at the collegiate level, Baker and Current we're excited about the chance to bowl as teammates this week. Their confidence in one another proved vital as both needed to double in their final frame to take the lead in both divisions.
"We both went up there and made the best shots we could have," said Current, who was the 2003-04 NCAA Collegiate Bowler and Rookie of the Year at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "I had confidence that she was going to do it. Before we even bowled, like a week and a half ago, she said, 'let's win a title.' For my first tournament and our first as doubles partners, it felt really good to be working together on the lanes and not competing against each other."
With less than 10 days until the conclusion of the 2012 event, both are eager to see if their scores hold and they can add a few Women's Championships titles to their already impressive resumes.
"It would mean the world to me," Baker said. "It's hard when there are only two or three big tournaments a year for women. I'd be ecstatic. Hopefully we bowled well enough to come out with a few titles."
Current rounded out her Women's Championships debut with 698 in team and 553 in singles for a 1,947 all-events total.
As Baker and Current were making their run at a doubles title, Kristin Warzinski of Fort Worth, Texas, was making history of her own as she rolled the 19th perfect game in the 93-year history of the Women's Championships.
Warzinski started her doubles set with games of 234 and 211 and then lined up 12 consecutive strikes for a 745 series. She is the fourth competitor to reach the milestone at the 2012 tournament, which is a new record for the storied event.
The 29-year-old right-hander teamed with Team USA's Stefanie Nation of Grand Prairie, Texas, and moved into third place in both Scratch and Diamond Doubles with 1,411 and 1,468, respectively. Nation added 666 in doubles.
Warzinski, the Open Singles champion at the 2011 Greater Tulsa Open, has shot 300 before and usually finds the first shot of the 10th frame to be the most difficult. After she recorded the 10th strike at the one-of-a-kind Stadium, she threw two of her best shots to etch her name in tournament history.
"I just wanted the first one," said Warzinski, who made her sixth Women's Championships appearance. "The first one in the 10th is the hardest for me to get off of my hand, so I just got up there, took a deep breath, and let it go. It was further left off my hand than any of the other ones, but it held. As soon as I got that one I relaxed and threw the next two really well. The last one was the best."
As a meetings and events coordinator for the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America, Warzinski appreciates her place in Women's Championships history.
"I think anytime you shoot 300 in a tournament like this, it's amazing," Warzinski said. "In 93 years, there have only been 19 of them. That's pretty awesome. It doesn't get any better than that."
Warzinski added 569 in team and 505 in singles for a 1,819 all-events score.
The top scratch score in team, doubles, singles and all-events is recognized as overall tournament champion. Click here for the latest standings.
The Diamond Division is made up of bowlers with averages of 180 and higher, with handicap based on 220.
Presenting sponsors for the 2012 USBC Women's Championships are Circus Circus, Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nev. Other sponsors include Harrah's Reno Casino, official brackets sponsor, Kegel, official lane maintenance provider, Humana, official registration sponsor, Steltronic, official scoring system, and supporting sponsors Storm Bowling Products, Nationwide Insurance, Sands Regency Casino Hotel and Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa and MyBowlingVacation.com.