Maybe it's the crab cakes.
There must be some explanation why, every time lately the Ladies Pro Bowling Tour hits Maryland, Tish Johnson and Dana Miller-Mackie have to knock each other off to win a championship.
At last year's Hammer Eastern Open, Miller-Mackie, while leading, left a 2-4-7 in the 10th frame of the championship match, handing Johnson a 174-166 win. It was Johnson's third straight tournament win, tying an LPBT record.
Then at April's Lady Fair Lanes Open in Adelphi, Johnson returned the favor. She led 108-62 after five frames, but Miller-Mackie strung five consecutive strikes together, Johnson contributed an open frame, and Miller-Mackie won the game and, in her next match, the championship.
Six months later, the Hammer Eastern Open is being contested again at Country Club Lanes on Pulaski Highway. With prize money of $50,000, and a first prize of $9,000, the best women bowlers in the world have hashed it out over 42 qualifying games. It's down to five bowlers for tonight's nationally televised stepladder finals (ESPN, 8 p.m.).
And, lo and behold, there are the same two lefthanders, Johnson, from Panorama City, Calif., (10,371 total pinfall) and Miller-Mackie, Albuquerque, N.M., (10,055) seeded 1-2.
"I've always liked synthetic lanes," said Johnson, who in 12 years on the tour has won 13 tournaments. "Because, for me, the shot never changes. If I get lined up, it's just a matter of executing."
Also in the finals are Debbie McMullen, Denver, Colo., (9,980); Aleta Sill, Dearborn, Mich., (9,811); and Lorrie Nichols, Algonquin, Ill., (9,773).
Sill and McMullen turned in 300 games during qualifying, as did Robin Romeo and Alayne Blomenberg. Four 300 games in one tournament?
Must be the crab cakes.