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Greensburg Salem girls bowling rolling but not looking too far ahead

Shawn Annarelli
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Greensburg Salem’s girls bowling team knows there could be championship celebrations in the future, but it’s trying to keep its expectations in check.

Undefeated with an 8-0 record, coach Jeff Heater wants his team to be laser-focused on Week 9 and not where they could be in a month.

“I knew we would do good, but I didn’t know we’d do this good,” Heater said. “For a second-year team to shoot 900s and 1000s is phenomenal. If I can get them to trust in their equipment, have confidence in themselves and not get ahead of themselves, this team can be unbeatable each week.”

Greensburg Salem doesn’t have a senior, but it also doesn’t need one.

Junior Mattie Mae White has been the team’s top bowler and leader.

“It makes me feel really good that I’m doing well,” White said. “I’ve changed the last two years, and I’ve gotten more serious about bowling, especially this season. I think I’ve gotten more confident, and learning more techniques from (Heater) has helped me.”

White is one of five girls in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Bowling League to own an average score above 200 points. Her 203.96 average ranks second to Norwin’s Rachel Lundy (206.57).

“Mattie Mae has stepped into the leader role the last two years,” Heater said. “What makes her so dominant is her drive and willingness to learn to be a better bowler. She takes advice from different people and turns it into better scoring almost every time she bowls.”

White’s level of commitment to improve can’t be taught, Heater said, but it can be contagious for the younger bowlers.

Sophomores Giovanna Salvio, Kayla Gaughan and Erica Moss have followed in White’s footsteps. The four rank in the top seven of the WPIBL Southern section.

“Last year, they had some growing pains, but this year they formed really quick, which is rare,” Heater said. “I knew they were going to be good bowlers a year ago, and then this this year they quickly jelled as a team.”

Their performances in an early-season rivalry match against Hempfield was a pivotal point.

The Golden Lions showed they could execute under pressure after splitting the first two rounds to win the match.

“We got a little more confident after that,” Heater said. “What will really show where our confidence is and how good we are is when we go to regionals against all those good teams. We’ll see what happens then. I just want them to trust themselves.”

Greensburg Salem has good reason to feel better about its fortunes nearly two months after its first match with Hempfield. The team’s average score is 864, 48 more than McKeesport, the next-closest team in WPIBL.

The team’s skill should give them confidence, Heater said, but not comfort.

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.