The Scotties had just two bowlers who competed on a consistent basis, yet finished 12-4-1 and one point behind New Egypt for a Burlington County Freedom Division championship. Bordentown had a loss and a tie in the season series, which proved to be the difference as the Warriors finished 9-0-1 in the division while the Scotties were 8-1-1.
Coach Ron Jones pointed to fourth-year senior Maggie Hetman and second-year senior Jenna Ryan as the bowlers “who consistently carried the load most of the time.”
“They were the only rock we had, everything else was catch as catch can,” Jones said. “Who was showing up? Who wasn’t showing up?”
The team’s top bowler was junior Jamie Nasatka, who averaged 141. Unfortunately, Nasatka suffered an injury during a field hockey state tournament game and missed the first three weeks of the season, “which cost us a little bit,” according to Jones.
Senior Sarah Heil was also enjoying a stellar season before illness sidelined her around the New Year.
“She called me two or three different times saying she would be back the next week, but she just couldn’t make it,” Jones said.
Senior Keira McAteer had the team’s second best average at 138, but could only bowl 19 games due to a heavy load of extra-curricular activities and classroom work. McAteer also plays field hockey and softball.
“We have three of our better bowlers who just weren’t available all the time,” Jones said. “We had a lousy day at (state sectionals), we were missing some girls there too. That was kind of the problem all year. This one played, then another played, another missed. They were jumping in and out, round about. It’s hard to say I put the same lineup out there at any one given time.”
And yet, the Scotties still enjoyed a .750 winning percentage and near-division title, which speaks volumes for the way different bowlers stepped up.
“I do think that if players didn’t get injured or sick, then the outcome could have been better,” Hetman said. “At each practice and match the team’s goal was to do our best and have fun. From a team standpoint, I liked how our team was able to bond. We all supported and encouraged each other at practice and at matches.
“Overall, I think this season went very well. It is sad that we missed the division title but we all did our best.”
Especially Hetman, who does not do any outside bowling in leagues but was still good enough to earn All-Freedom Division honors three times.
“My goals for this year were to increase my bowling average and to try to make it to states again,” said Maggie, who will not bowl in college but plans on majoring in Graphic Design at Stevenson Tech. “Last year I had the flu and couldn’t attend states so this year I planned to be able to go if we got there. I am very happy with the season I had, I just wanted to bowl my best and have fun for my senior year.”
Jones felt that Hetman’s best quality was her consistency.
“She was never very high but she never blew out a series and came up with nothing,” the coach said. “Sometimes girls will do that. Even the guys. They’ll bowl a 200, a 200 and a clunky 110 in their third game. You say ‘Wait a minute, if you stay consistent we might have been able to win that match.’ Maggie was consistent all year long. You could put her name down and figure she will come up with a 425, 450 series.”
Hetman and Ryan, who rolled a 130 average, are the key graduation losses among the regular bowlers that Bordentown faces. The good news is that Nasatka will return with junior classmate Kylia Verwey, who “did pretty good” this year according to Smith. Sophomores Rayna Smith and Haley Russell also showed promise.
Hetman did what she could to tutor the youngsters.
“I was able to help some first-year bowlers with their technique and where to aim at the pins,” she said. “Of course with the help of Mr. Jones they all turned into pretty good bowlers by the end of the season.”
Jones admits he is far from the glory days of 2007-12, when Bordentown won four state titles in five seasons. He noted that interest in girls bowling is waning, saying the only consistent programs in the area any more are Ewing, Burlington Township and Pemberton. But he is still optimistic about what Bordentown’s future holds.
“I’m losing four seniors, two of which didn’t bowl all that much,” he said. “The rest will be coming back, and some of the younger kids will be coming up. I had a sign-up at the 8th-grade back-to-school night and I had some kids sign up who liked to bowl. If we get one or two bowlers out of them we’ll be in good shape.”