After a somewhat rocky start to the season, Mandi Steffes is finally feeling comfortable and confident on the lanes.
And it's beginning to show in her scores.
On Nov. 19, Steffes tossed her first 700 series of the season with a 739 in the Pin Topplers League at Westgate Bowl. Two weeks ago she carded a 660 honor count. Last Saturday she knocked down a 698 series at South Lanes in La Crosse in traveling league.
She topped all of them this past Monday when she nailed a 771 series, which included a 290 game. That series is the highest by a woman this year and the fifth highest ever in the city.
"I do feel more comfortable," said Steffes, who also owns the three highest women's scores ever in Winona (787, 780, 774). "When you're not bowling well you kind of get scared and you're not real aggressive. I feel I have my confidence back. It helps to have that confidence and a good attitude.
"It all felt like it came together Monday night. In practice things didn't go well. I kept pulling it and the ball kept coming off my hand wrong. I made some adjustments on the lane. The oil held up and the pins were falling."
It's not that her season has been all that bad up until the final month. Steffes was still averaging 203 heading into Monday night, which is the same average she had last year - despite bowling just half a season due to the birth of her son. She also has 13 honor counts, including six scores of 650 or better, this season.
These days bowling has taken a backseat to two young children that Steffes and her husband Mike are raising. She's bowling just one night a week and subbing some on Wednesday night in the Mixers League at Westgate. She also bowls twice a month in the La Crosse Traveling League.
"I still want to bowl well," Steffes said. "But now bowling is more of a night out for me. That seems more important to me than how well I bowl. Now it's more to be with my friends. If I bowl well, that's a bonus.
"I still have the love for the game. Maybe I'll take it more seriously again when the kids grow up."
Earlier in the season, Steffes had a hard time putting three good games together. Most of the problem, she said, was her spare-shooting.
"It's been a bad year for me," she said. "I haven't been very consistent. It's been my spares. It's always my spare game when I'm struggling. I was so excited to start this season. I thought I could work out the quirks, but it didn't happen."
There certainly haven't been any quirks in her game recently.
The Winona Women's Bowling Association is still taking applications for three post-secondary scholarships of $550. Applicants must be a YABA bowler or an adult student bowler.
Additional qualifications and information are available on the application forms at bowling establishments in Winona. The application deadline is Jan. 19.
Steffes wasn't the only woman bowler turning in big scores in the last week.
Monday night in the Spinners League at Winona Bowl, Angie Booher blasted a 691 series. Two nights later in the Sunsetters League at Westgate, Keri Prigge tossed her 20th honor count of the year with a 685 series.
Last Saturday in the Mixed Nuts League at Winona Bowl, Krystal Dorman nailed a 671 honor count and Donata Kitchens added a 668. Lynda Krall (664) and Maggie Glenn (653) also broke the 650 mark.
Keri Wegman (632, 630) and Pomeroy (691, 642) both rolled a pair of 600s, while Beth Poulin (640), Jenny Glowczewski (634), Julie Moldenhauer (627), Sue Tarras (606) and Kim Kubis (605) also had honor counts.
Wednesday night in the Mixers League at Westgate, Joanne Stiehl tallied the first 600 of her career with a 635 series.
Leading the men in the past week was Tyler Brown, who turned in a 774 series last Thursday in the Action League at Westgate.
Tod Walters added a season-high 764 Tuesday in the Blue Ribbon League at Winona Bowl, and Steve Maliszewski threw a 755 Tuesday in the American League at Westgate.
Also rolling 700s were Dave Hultgren (731), Geoff Schewe (730), Chris Gardner (721), Dale Bartelson (721), Brad Kanz (719), Steve Nelton (718), Jeff Smelser (717), Jamie Kouba (716), Jerry Bublitz (708), Drew Grafton (708), Mark Walters (706), Paul Jandt (703) and Brent Cordes (701).
Chuck Peterson reached a milestone last Thursday in the Action League with his first career 700 - a 715.