By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — When coach Robert Rose took then-freshman Evan Adkins to the state high school bowling championships two years ago, Rose found a diversion to keep his rookie state competitor focused and not intimidated.
They talked a lot about baseball. And Adkins, a pitcher for the Xenia Buccaneers, placed second overall at the 2014 state tournament.
It might’ve been snowing and blowing outside on Thursday, but Rose and assistant coach Andrew Johnson were once again chatting up Adkins and talking about baseball during the Division I Southwest District tournament, held at Beaver-Vu Bowl.
And guess what? Adkins is heading back to Columbus.
Adkins, the lone Xenia bowler to compete at districts this season, rolled games of 256-247-201 to toss a 704 series and once again advance to the state championship, which will be held at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. His score was second among the five individual qualifiers not on one of the five qualifying teams, and it was the fourth-best series overall.
Adkins practiced on the district event oil pattern on Tuesday. After that outing, he felt pretty confident about his chances in the district tournament.
“But I knew that every shot mattered, so you always have to just go out and give it your best shot every day,” Adkins said. After his first two solid games, the junior righty said he didn’t feel any added pressure in the third.
“I just knew I had to bowl a good last game and hope for the best,” he said. In 30 frames of bowling, Adkins had only one ‘open’ frame, where he didn’t either roll a strike or get a spare.
“For probably the last hour and a half, we just talked about baseball,” said Johnson. “He’s a baseball player, so we just talked about anything and everything baseball, and that kinda kept his mind focused in and out of his shots.”
Adkins set the GWOC scoring average record last season with a 251.5 average in 19 games of GWOC competition. Now a three-time all-GWOC selection, Adkins has a 220.9 average in 46 high school games this season. His average in GWOC contests for this season is 226.9.
“In my opinion, Evan is one of the top bowlers in the state,” said Rose. “He survived last week (sectionals) with that difficult oil pattern, and he’s a very competitive young man, so there was no doubt that he was going to come here in the right frame of mind.”
Rose said the idea of talking baseball came up during the 2014 state meet.
“When you sometimes have to wait 10 minutes between shots, that can be very distracting. You don’t have teammates here to talk to, so we figured that if we could talk about things he was interested in, then let him focus for the moment before he was going to throw the ball, that was very effective,” Rose added.
The Division I boys state bowling tournament will take place March 4 in Columbus. There were no area qualifiers in the Division II boys or girls district tournaments.
ONE (pin) AND DONE: Last year’s Division I state champion, Beavercreek, fell one pin shy of the fifth and final team qualification spot on Thursday.
Greater Western Ohio Conference teams Miamisburg (4,474), Sidney (4,461), Springfield (4,459), Centerville (4,405) and 2015 state runner-up Huber Heights Wayne (4,387) nabbed the coveted top-5 spots.
Beavercreek finished sixth, with a 4,386 score. Just one pin behind Wayne.
After the initial three games of individual series competition and the first three Baker Games, Fairborn had a solid shot at earning a top-5 spot. But after the lunch break and the last three Baker Games, the Skyhawks wound up 11th in the 24-team field.
BEAVERCREEK GIRLS STATE BOUND: During Wednesday’s Division I girls district tournament, Beavercreek placed third overall to nab one of the six state qualifying team positions and advance.
State-bound Beavercreek bowlers are: Brittany-Ann O’Connell, Kaylee Fernatt, J’Dee Sandin, Emily Florkey, Jenna Morgan, Raven Cooper, Rachael Knight and Amy Laferty.
The first four of the six state transfer spots were grabbed up by GWOC teams.
Centerville, Troy, Beavercreek, Wayne, Cincinnati McAuley and Cincinnati Glen Este advanced to the D-I girls state tournament, which will take place March 5, also at Webb’s Columbus Bowl.