Hoffman Estates coach Dan Pfligler had high praise for the performance of Hawks bowler Alexis Orwat in last year's playoffs.
"She came up big, both in regionals and sectionals," said Pfligler. "Alexis really takes pride in what she does. She feels like she can bowl at least 200 every game."
Orwat had a tremendous season last year as a sophomore, and as coach Pfligler noted, her play in regionals and sectionals helped fuel the Hawks' success.
But it was also her stellar accomplishments during the Mid-Suburban League campaign, especially in the MSL championship meet -- and at the state tournament in Rockford -- that led her to be considered one of the top clutch bowlers in the area last season.
She finished seventh overall in MSL individual average and saved her best for last at the MSL tourney.
Her series of 708, with games of 237, 236 and 235, led Hoffman to overtake Schaumburg and win the MSL crown.
"We gave it all we had," said Orwat of the MSL meet where they rallied to win. "It was incredible."
Now a junior, Orwat is definitely focused on not only leading her team but also becoming the best that she can be in the classroom, saying that the "junior year is the most important year."
She began bowling around the age of 12, guided by her father, Mike.
Then came high school, where she excelled in her first year, travelling to the Cherry Bowl in Rockford as a freshman with her team as the Hawks qualified for the state finals.
Orwat acquitted herself quite well at Rockford in that meet, rolling games of 246 and 217 on the first day of the tourney.
And more importantly, the experience prepared her for her second state trip as a sophomore last season.
"It helped me know what to expect," said Orwat.
And in Hoffman's fifth-place state finish, Orwat was solid. Her two-day total pinfall of 2,312 was second on the team only to Amanda Richae, who wound up claiming the second-place individual medal.
Her two-day total included 4 plus 200 games in the pressure-packed arena.
Now the Hawks are already off to a great start in the Mid-Suburban League as junior Orwat started out by firing a 231 game and a 600 series in the opening night of the MSL conference season.
So might a third straight state trip be in the offing? If teamwork is important to a squad's success, Hoffman Estates may be a shoo-in.
"I think we can get through," said Orwat. "If we stay positive, help each other and pick each other up, we'll be good. I would say we are the definition of a team. We laugh a lot together and have a lot of team bonding experiences.
"It would be pretty nice to make it back to state again."
Coach Pfliger agrees, and he knows in Orwat he has a player with the talent and experience to help the Hawks make a return to Rockford.
"Alexis works hard," said the coach, "and she's always looking to improve her game."