Leyden senior Erika Pimentel suddenly noticed that a lot more people were paying attention.
Despite her teammates' efforts to distract her, it seemed everyone at Brunswick Zone at Mount Prospect realized that that Pimentel had rolled nine strikes in a row and was going into the 10th frame with the possibility of a perfect game at the Prospect Invitational.
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And when she rolled a strike to begin the 10th, the excitement and pressure became even more pronounced.
"I was shaking at that point," said the senior. "My dad was there watching, and I'm sure even he was nervous. My teammates were trying to calm me down."
Pimentel rolled her next ball and, unfortunately, left the 4 pin standing. She still finished with an examplary 289 game, the best by far as the Prospect invite Saturday.
"We were all hoping she'd get her first 300 game," said Leyden coach Chris Aylward, "but it wasn't to be."
Amazingly, the 289 wasn't even the best game ever for the talented Eagles upperclassman. She rolled a 299 in league play last year.
"She just pulled it a board left," said Ayward. "We were all rooting for her."
Pimentel's stellar performance, along with some well-timed bowling in the afternoon Baker session, helped the Eagles move up into fourth place overall in the final team standings.
"We were all quite surprised at that," said Aylward, "including myself."
"We didn't know that we were going to move up the ladder that far," said Pimentel of the Eagles' placement. "When we heard the announcement thatn we were fourth, it surprised all of us."
Pimentel, who has been to the state tournament each of her first three years, said she and her teammates are looking for another trip to Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford, the site of the state finals, again this season.
Another team that has postseason hopes are the host Knights, who finished 11th in state last season. They impressed Saturday at their own 36-team tourney by finisihing in second place, just behind Waubonsie Valley -- last year's state champs.
Senior Meghan Mulcahy was a big part of the placement, rolling an 838 series.
"This was a lot of fun today," said Mulcahy, who added that it's hard to believe that her senior season is here. "I think everyone on our team did a good job. To finish second against the likes of Waubonsie, Hoffman Estates, who has a great team, and Minooka gives us a big boost of confidence.
Sarah Wille of the Hawks continued her successful season by rolling a 263, the fourth-best game of the day, and 886 series.
Reba Hall of the Eagles fired an 838 four-game series, Allison Peters of Elk Grove rolled a 245 game, while Katelynn Bieber (862 series) and freshman Arie Upshaw (256 game) of the Knights contributed to the host's runner-up finish.
"We want to get back to state this year," added Mulcahy, "and were looking for a top three finish. We want to go out with a bang."