---- — Without a doubt, The Daily Item All-Star bowling team is a talented bunch.
However, several of them have expertise that extends beyond the bowling alley.
Take the two Bowlers of the Year: Milton's Mark Artley and Lewisburg's Alexis Neuer. They are both key members of their school's respective baseball and softball teams.
Artley is a jack of all trades for Milton. He has appeared in all five games this season for the Black Panthers either as a pitcher, a shortstop or right fielder.
On the mound Artley is 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA with 10 strikeouts and three walks. At the plate he's batting .286 with four hits out of 14 at-bats, including a double.
But after making a deep run in bowling, it hasn't been an easy transition for Artley to switch gears and get back onto the diamond.
"It was difficult running back and forth from bowling to baseball (practice)," said Artley. "Throwing a ball and rolling a ball are two totally different things. I've worked hard in getting back to baseball shape."
Artley has already made his "mark" on the lanes, and he badly wants to do the same on the baseball field.
"It's pretty important," he said. "I hope people remember me for bowling, but I also want people to remember me for baseball because baseball is my favorite sport.
"I've worked hard at both."
When playing baseball, Artley prefers to be a pitcher because, just as a bowler, he is able to dictate the flow of the game.
"I'd much rather be a pitcher. I like being in control of the game," he said. "I like being in control of what I have to do. I don't want to rely on others to do what I have to do."
Two of Artley's teammates from the bowling team are also his teammates and fellow pitchers on the diamond: senior Neal Hoover and junior Jeff Levitan. And at Midd-West, junior Luke Zimmerman is a catcher for the Mustangs.
Along with Neuer, who is a freshman pitcher and third baseman for Lewisburg, senior Brynn Musser is a starting catcher for Selinsgrove's softball team.
The biggest challenge for Musser was taking care of all of her responsibilities involved with the two sports, and then some.
"Having to juggle practice times between softball and bowling, on top of keeping up with my school work was challenging," said Musser. "Plus, I do dance classes one night a week, but we (the coaches and I) made it work.
"Coach (Jeff) Mull was flexible with the times he could meet with me to practice at the bowling alley, and coach (Joel) Rogers was understanding and willing to work with me when I was practicing for states at the start of softball season," added Musser.
While she is good at both bowling and softball, Musser prefers to be out on the diamond and being the Seals' backstop.
"Softball is definitely my favorite sport because it's fast-paced and keeps me moving," she said. "Bowling is something I do for enjoyment more so than the sport of it, and everything that comes with bowling as far as my accomplishments, has always just been like icing on the cake for me."
And although both sports require different mechanics, the mental aspect involved with each of them has helped Musser succeed.
"In bowling, the focus is hitting your target. And in softball, it's focusing on the ball coming," she said.
Until next time, stay out of the gutters.
n Brian Holtzapple is a correspondent who covers bowling for The Daily Item. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.