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E.J. Tackett eyes first PBA Tour title

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Remember E.J.Tackett?

Amid considerable fanfare, the Los Angeles X pro bowling team selected him in the Professional Bowlers Assn. League draft in November to round out its five-man team.

X manager Andrew Cain said during the draft festivities: “E.J. is definitely an upcoming talent. With all of the experience on our team, E.J. will add a lot of energy. He’s fearless and he isn’t afraid to throw it for the money.”

Tackett was the PBA Tour’s 2013 rookie of the year and was given the No. 5 slot on the X – behind Jason Belmonte, Mika Koivuniemi, Parker Bohn III and Andres Gomez.

Once the 2014 season started, the X rookie bowled like a rookie.

This is no reflection on Tackett’s immense talents, but he found it difficult to shine in his limited appearances.

Tackett never seemed to get in a groove with the X and blew an easy spare in a prominent moment in a league match against the defending-champion New York City WTT KingPins.

Still, the X survived Tackett’s miss to upset the KingPins, then went on to the Elias Cup finals where it finished second behind the Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters.

Belmonte and Bohn enjoyed terrific seasons for the X and Tackett, Koivuniemi and Gomez were definitely on a second tier.

But the 21-year-old Tackett no doubt was adjusting to the league’s unusual formats and dealing with nerves in his first season in the league.

But that was then.

Tackett, a Huntington, Ind., resident, will be taking center stage during the PBA Oklahoma Open stepladder finals, which will be telecast at 4 p.m. Tuesday on CBS Sports Network.

He has earned the No. 1 position for the finals, meaning he has to win just one match to claim his first PBA Tour title. Tackett averaged 223 during three match-play rounds.

The stepladder finals will start when Belmonte, the No. 5 qualifier, meets 2005-06 PBA player of the year Tommy Jones.

Should Belmonte keep winning and meet up with his X teammate in the finals, it would mark a rematch of their meeting in the title match of the United States Bowling Congress Masters.

Belmonte won that one, 221-177.

Perhaps we’ll see how far Tackett has progressed.

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