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Rock Hill's oldest league bowler is still bowling better than her age

If your name is May Williams, Monday means the beginning of bowling week -- four leagues, three days and one night.

So May puts on her pearls and her makeup and grabs her bowling shoes and the white bowling ball she uses.

"I can't see the ball too good anymore once it leaves my hand," May said. "They said the white ball would help me see it down the lane -- but I still can't see what pins I knock down."

And knock them down she does, this oldest league bowler in Rock Hill and York County. She is not just kind of old.

On Monday, May Williams, right there bowling at Strikers Family Sportscenter on lanes 16 and 17, in one of her four leagues, celebrated her 99th birthday.

She can't drive anymore, and she can't see the pins scatter.

But she can sure throw strikes.

"And I plan to bowl at a hundred," Williams said.

"More than 40 years I've been at it. Even if I don't see too good, I plan to keep at it until I turn 100 and score 100."

The 100 score next year shouldn't be a problem. At 99, she has a 123 scratch average. In the first game Monday, Williams started out with three open frames.

"She's just getting warmed up," called out John Glover, who manages the bowling center for owner Howard Davis, after he announced over the public address that May Williams was celebrating her birthday.

"May's eyesight isn't what it once was, and I hope she bowls when she reaches 100. But underestimate May, she drops the hammer on you."

In the fourth frame Williams shuffled forth. Right foot, left slide, right and left and a toss of the right arm. The white ball hurtled -- well, maybe it didn't hurtle, but it moved -- pinward. Nine pins dropped, leaving the nine pin.

"The nine," Ken Wheatley, another bowler in her league, whispered in Williams' ear.

Williams rolled again and missed the nine pin.

"That nine won't last next time," Williams said. "I'll blast it."

Then she was up again and dropped eight pins.

"The 6-10" Wheatley whispered, of the pins left.

Williams looked at the alley, decided exactly where a few feet in front of her the ball needed to go without even seeing the two pins left standing at the other end of the alleys, and let fly.

The 6-10 was no more.

"Picked it?" she asked of the spare.

"Sure did," came the chorus from other bowlers.

Then, in the sixth frame Williams threw a strike. She didn't see a thing: The cheers told her strike.

Williams, a widow, a few years ago gave up her house and now lives in senior housing.

"I bowl in four leagues, but only two are sanctioned, official leagues," Williams confided, like she was talking about spying on the Germans. "I just like it. Other than this, I listen to books on tape.

"They took my keys on account of my sight so I don't drive anymore, but I get around."

All four leagues planned parties for Williams this week.

The next frame Monday, Williams of the 5-foot frame, about 99 pounds if you count the pearls around her neck, hits another spare with her 10-pound white ball, then another -- all with Wheatley whispering what is left after the first shot and Williams lining up the second shot without seeing the pins.

"Did I get them?" she asks of the spare pins.

She did, of course.

By the 10th frame, Williams is beating -- scratch, without the bowlers handicap that adds pins -- Wheatley and the two ladies she is bowling against.

She knocks down nine in the 10th frame, picks the spare clean as a sparerib at a church social, then drops another nine in the final shot for a total game of 153.

"Not bad for age 99," Williams said. "And I'm just getting warmed up."

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