Virginia bowlers cruise into Ruby Doubles lead at 2018 USBC Women's Championships

By Ryne Navarro and Aaron Smith
USBC Communications

RENO, Nev.
- Although Sheila Cole of North Chesterfield, Virginia, and Mary Pugh of Richmond, Virginia, weren't originally slated to be doubles partners at the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships, they quickly found chemistry as a pair and moved into the lead in Ruby Doubles.

Pugh led the way Friday at the National Bowling Stadium with games of 201, 203 and 247 for a 651 series, and Cole added games of 181, 216 and 169 for a 566 series, giving the pair a 1,217 total.

Michelle Okrent of Las Vegas and Julie Jaques of Henderson, Nevada, had taken the Ruby Doubles lead Sunday with 1,139.

Cole and Pugh's group had to switch several bowlers around after a few were unable to make the trip to Reno.

"This is the first time we've bowled doubles together," said Cole, who made her fourth USBC Women's Championships appearance. "Both of our partners couldn't come, so we were paired together and made a great team."

The two encouraged each other during their set at the NBS, which made them more relaxed and allowed them to find their groove.

"I kept saying 'relax and throw the ball,'" said Pugh, who made her ninth tournament appearance. "I knew if we did that and played our games, the pins would fall our way."

Pugh, a 65-year-old right-hander, already is a member of the Greater Richmond USBC Hall of Fame, but she said a win at the Women's Championships would top her list of accomplishments.

"This would put another page in my bowling book," Pugh said. "I can show my kids, grandkids and coworkers what I do on the weekends. This would be a huge accomplishment for me."

Cole, a 62-year-old right-hander, wanted to put on a great performance with her partner, and her overall showing at the 2018 event also helped her into sixth place in Ruby All-Events. She added sets of 624 in team and 538 in singles for a 1,728 total.

"I was telling Mary last night that I hoped to do well," Cole said. "I'm usually able to get around my average, maybe get one or two 200 games, but nothing like this."

Pugh and Cole now only have to wait two days to see if their performance will be enough to claim a coveted gemstone trophy awarded to the champion in each average-based division. The 2018 Women's Championships, which started April 19, will end its 74-day run July 1.

Ruby Doubles features bowlers with combined entering averages of 350-379.

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