For the fifth time in the last six years, the Sam Houston State bowlers have started the season with a tournament championship. The Kats won a pair of matches on Sunday to take the title at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Invitational hosted by Tulane.

Entering the day as the No. 1 seed, the Kats knocked of SFA in the opening match of the day in a seven-game match. Then in the finals, Sam Houston beat the hosts Tulane to take title.

“Today showed how mature a young roster can be when facing moments such as we encountered today,” said head coach Brad Hagen. “The fact we did what we did today makes me excited for the future. We were able to take advantage of mistakes and showed a ton of maturity.”

Stephanie Zavala and Madysen Keller were both named to the all-tournament team. Keller helped the Kats to a top seed with a 300 game to beat SFA on Saturday. In the rematch Sunday morning the top seed played a major role as it gave the Kats lane choice in the seventh game.

“That meant a lot for us, because we knew we would be able to pick the lane we would be more confident with,” Zavala said. “We were able to go out and execute shots with more ease.”

In the finals against Tulane, the two teams split the first four games. In the fifth game, Tulane left the 10th frame open, giving Zavala the chance to win it. She was able to strike out in the 10th for a 225-224 win. Sam Houston then won the sixth game 256-202 to clinch the title.

“Honestly I tried not to look at the scores, so I had no idea we had a chance to win,” Zavala said about the fifth game. “After getting the first strike and seeing my team’s reaction I finally realized it. For the last two shots I told myself to just give the ball chance to strike and no matter what my team would have my back.”