Vanderbilt senior Brittni Hamilton finally realized something was up in the ninth frame.
In fact, the magnitude of the moment almost tripped her up.
“I really didn’t realize it until I got up in the ninth frame. ... I was the most nervous in that frame,” Hamilton said. “It was probably my worst shot of the game.”
Yet, just like they had in the previous eight frames, all 10 pins fell. Things didn’t change in any of her last three shots in the 10th frame either as Hamilton bowled her way into the Vanderbilt record books with the first 300 in school history.
The individual feat propelled the Commodores to a victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday during the Prairie View Invitational. One day later, Hamilton and her teammates capped off a memorable weekend by capturing the tournament championship – the third of the season for last year’s national champion runner-up.
Hamilton, a three-time All-American who won a silver medal for Team USA at the World Youth Championships two summers ago, now has four 300s to her name. She bowled her first in high school but never achieved perfection in a setting like Saturday’s, which was streamed online internationally.
“To have my teammates there behind me and cheering for me is pretty amazing,” Hamilton said. “It is a lot different than any of the other 300s I’ve shot. The other ones I shot it was mainly just me and people that were there bowling in Saturday morning leagues. ... To be able to bowl it in college, with my college team, was just one step above that.”
Hamilton, a native of Webster, N.Y., did survive a scare in the 10th frame.
As her second shot crashed through, the seventh pin seemed determined to stay up.
“I actually turned my back to the pin because I thought it was standing,” Hamilton said. “The next thing you know my teammates are screaming and yelling that it fell. For a second there everyone thought it was going to stay standing and then I got lucky enough and it fell over.”
Prior to the weekend, only Kaitlyn Reynolds had been closer to perfection. The former Vanderbilt standout bowled a 299 against Nebraska in 2006 in the Music City Classic her freshman year.
“You have to have some mental chops to be able to understand, compartmentalize and realize what’s going on and the ability to go out and execute with all the nerves and excitement of what is going on,” Vanderbilt coach John Williamson said. “It takes some skill to repeat the shots and, like anything, it takes a little bit of luck to finish it. I think [Hamilton] has all three of those. She has a pretty good mental game and she has a really good physical game. She got a break on one shot in the 10th frame that allowed it to continue.
“I think it is a testament to her and, hopefully, a good thing for us.”