BY MICHAEL KELLY
SCHENECTADY — With the core of last season’s team back, the Niskayuna girls’ bowling squad got its 2015-16 Suburban Council season off to a strong start.
In its first league match, head coach Carol Baldwin’s team picked up a 27-5 win Dec. 1 against Ballston Spa. Heading into the match, Baldwin said she was unsure how her club — an interesting mix, consisting mainly of seniors and freshmen — would fare.
“But after the second round of games, we felt pretty strongly that we had it,” Baldwin said.
“That was important because I know a lot of our girls were very nervous,” senior Julia Favata said. “It was important for them to gain their confidence.”
The next day, in another home match at Boulevard Bowl, the Silver Warriors were not as strong, falling 27-5 to Bethlehem. While a disappointing result, those two matches showed both the strengths and weakness for a Niskayuna squad looking to improve upon its 5-9 finish last season.
The promise: the star the Silver Warriors have in Favata, plus chemistry drawn from only losing one player — Lauren Litz, who graduated this past June — from its scoring lineup in 2014-15.
The pitfalls: a need to rely on youngsters for a nine-deep varsity squad which features a sophomore and four freshmen besides its four seniors.
This year’s younger bowlers are experienced in the sense that they were varsity team members last season. However, they’re inexperienced when it comes to varsity scoring action, as the team’s underclassmen — freshmen Allison Duguid, Mariana Gonzales, Vaishu Kanakamedala, and Gina Voris, plus sophomore Isabella Stansbury — mostly rolled exhibition games last year.
“This year, they’ll probably all be in a match or two for experience. They need that,” Baldwin said. “Next year is going to be a rebuilding year for us.”
Seniors, though, are at the heart of this season’s squad. Coming off a junior season in which she qualified for the state championships, Favata is the team’s top bowler. Favata opened the season with a 220-625 effort, while she was even better in her team’s loss to Bethlehem with a 263-687 showing.
Along with Favata, senior Morgan Richards got her league season off to a strong start — she rolled 210-574 against Ballston Spa and 170-493 against Bethlehem — while seniors Natalia Anapolis and Angela Grant have been critical in helping the team’s younger athletes become more comfortable.
“We’re trying to be leaders for them, show them what to do and what not to do,” Richards said.
With bowling being more of a mental game than a physical one, Favata said the Silver Warriors’ seniors have made sure to help the team’s underclassmen better understand the sport.
“[There] is a lot [to it], and we’ve tried to help them focus,” Favata said.
Much of Niskayuna’s early-season schedule will be used to figure out how to configure its lineup and best utilize its seniors. So far, though, Baldwin likes what she sees with her 2015-16 squad.
“They’re all developing,” Baldwin said. “They’re bettering their averages each time they play.”