The McNary girls bowling team: Hannah Russell, Aneeka Stephen, Brittney Kiser, KayLynn Hatfield and Sierra Mo. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The McNary girls bowling team: Hannah Russell, Aneeka Stephen, Brittney Kiser, KayLynn Hatfield and Sierra Mo. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School girls varsity bowling team may not have the depth of their male counterparts this season, but the Lady Celts are hopeful despite it.

“We’ve got a really strong group, and we did pretty well in our first tournament even though we were missing a bowler and our coach,” said KayLynn Hatfield, a senior. “With a smaller team attitudes are easier to control, too.”

In the team’s first tournament, McNary placed ninth out of a field about 15 teams strong, but Hatfield said they should do better in a tournament Sunday, Dec. 7, in Molalla.

“I want to see us place sixth or better, and we’re going to start adding Friday practices so that should help skillwise,” she said.

In high school bowling, five-person teams bowl baker-style meaning the first bowler will bowl frames one and six. The second bowler will bowl frames two and seven and so on, with the fifth bowler bowling frames five and 10. With a larger team, Head Coach Kathy Kaplan could substitute bowlers on any given frame, but the Lady Celts will have to make due with the five-bowler nucleus they have.

Junior Brittney Kiser said it shouldn’t be much of a problem given the cohesion of the roster.

“Our team is really good at working together. We’re always cheering for each other and making up jokes, but we’re able to stay really focused when the tournaments come around,” Kiser said.

The Lady Celts have experience on their side. Last season’s team won the district tournament before heading to state tournament in Medford.

“Everyone on the team has bowled together before. We know how each one of us handles the pressure and we each have our own plans for growing,” said senior Sierra Mo.

This year, the Celts get to host the district tournament at Keizer’s Town & Country Bowling Center and the state tournament is just down the road at Salem’s Firebird Lanes.

“We don’t want to get too cocky about having everyone in our house, but we know the lanes and we’ll be able to use that,” Kiser said.

While the district tournament won’t arrive for another month, the team is focused on improving wherever they can.

“We’ve gotten better since our first tournament and what happened there was really because we got nervous. This Sunday, we’ll all be there and we’ll have the mindset we need to win,” Hatfield said.