Splits, spares and strikes: 710 series was no mistake for Virch at Superior Lanes

Maybe it was her new bowling ball. Or maybe it was competing with the best Marquette County could offer.

Either way, Hope Virch of Marquette rolled her 14th career 700 series last week in Superior Lanes’ Tuesday Night Mixed League, where she is secretary-treasurer.

Virch, 52, hit 710 on games of 257, 218 and 235, though she was in a foul mood for two minutes afterward.

“I had added it up in my head that I needed 245 the last game to get to 700,” she told me, “and so I thought I needed the first strike in the 10th (frame of the third game).”

Entering the 10th working on six strikes in a row, she left a single pin and spared it for what she thought was a series in the 690s.

“I came back and my daughter (and teammate) Maria said ‘Congratulations!’ and I said ‘For what?’ and she told me I hit 710,” Hope Virch said. “Then I realized I had added up the first two games wrong.”

She credits her new 14-pound Storm Marvel Pearl reactive resin ball for recent success.

“I’ve only had it for about two weeks, and this was the first time I threw it all three games,” Virch said. “But the lowest score I’ve had with it so far is 570.”

She said it was suggested to her by Storm Products certified instructor Steve Richter of Sheboygan, Wis., who Country Lanes manager Clay Sandberg has brought here for several years to offer lessons for area bowlers.

“Steve recommended I get that ball after our lesson last October,” Virch said. “I kept putting it off until I bowled with Allen Lancour and we won the Carp River Doubles (tournament at Country) in February. Part of the first-place prize was a new bowling ball.”

She said this ball hooks more than any other she’s owned.

“I had to learn how to throw a swing shot again,” she said.

She explained that she normally rolls the ball straight down the right side of the lane and lets it hook into her righthander’s 1-3 pocket.

A swing shot is one where the ball starts near the middle of the lane – or for some of the big-hooking men, well over by the left gutter – and is aimed toward the right gutter. A large amount of hook in the ball pulls it back from the verge of disaster, and with the angle into the pocket, often hits with more power.

And that usually translates into more strikes.

Virch certainly got them, as she hit 700 despite missing two spares. But she rolled four strikes in a row twice in the first game and had a five-bagger in Game 2 and six straight in Game 3.

Oops, I’ve totally left you hanging from the first paragraph when I said Virch was bowling with the county’s best.

She was part of, actually the women’s organizer for, the inaugural Baker Team Challenge that concluded on April 14. It pitted all-star teams from the county’s two centers.

Ishpeming had sizable leads in points after the April 7 action, 40-10 for the men and 31-19 for the women as they bowled 15 Baker-style games each night. Baker games have team members alternate frames to come up with a single-game score.

Marquette won both rematches, but while Ishpeming was able to hang on for a 55-45 final advantage on the women’s side at Country Lanes, the big-city men crushed the West Enders 44-6 in Week 2 for a 54-46 victory.

The guys used lead-weighted pins at Superior in the rematch, putting a premium on quality shots as most off-hits wouldn’t become lucky strikes.

While Marquette had eight games over 200, only one eclipsed 220. Meanwhile, Ishpeming struggled to just two 200s and a score as low as 129, though they only lost that game by 31 pins.

The women played under more typical conditions with Marquette prevailing 26-24 with eight 200s and only two games under 170. Ishpeming had five 200s and only three under 170, all in the final five-game block.

So the first-time winners are Ishpeming women Jessica Ayotte, Brenda Carlson, Kaytlynne Carlson, Heather Sandberg and Diana Windahl; and Marquette men Jeff Miller, Mike Musolf, Scott Salminen, Justin Stephens and Dave Stevenson.

Men’s and women’s plaques prepared by Republic Memorials owner Pat Gingras are in the works that have room to list each year’s winning team on them for a long time to come.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.