Monday, 10 June 2019 23:05

'O-mazing': Former RSHS standout Owen Bowers named to two All-American teams after freshman year at FSW

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Owen Bowers finished her freshman year at FSW as one of the nation's top NJCAA Division I hitters. Owen Bowers finished her freshman year at FSW as one of the nation's top NJCAA Division I hitters. Contributed photo.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Owen Bowers left for her freshman year at Florida SouthWestern State College last fall, she wanted to fly under the radar and let her work on the softball field do all the talking.


But the now rising sophomore couldn’t stay off the map too long, as she put together a freshman campaign that was nothing short of “O-mazing.” Bowers saw her name explode on the National Junior Collegiate Division I softball circuit, finishing her first year as one of the nation’s top hitters.

This week, Bowers saw postseason accolades No. 4 and No. 5 added to her resume as she earned two First-Team All-American honors. On Friday, she was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association squad, before being placed on the NJCAA’s roster Monday.

Other recognitions for the catcher and designated player include First-Team Suncoast All-Conference, First-Team NCFA All-South Region and First-Team Florida College System Activities Association All-State.

And had Bowers been asked if she thought she’d stockpile that many awards during her first season of college ball, the former Richmond Senior High School standout player wouldn’t have believed it herself.

“No, I didn’t expect all of this to happen,” Bowers smiled in an interview with ROSports. “When I got there last summer, I wanted to fly low and just put in work to get better. It was different at first because I was being taught new stuff and a new swing.

“I tried to do it, but I ended up piecing that with what I’ve been doing my whole life and what worked for me at Richmond,” she added. “It’s a huge honor to be selected to two All-American teams, but they obviously didn’t come without the work put in by not only me, but my coaches and team.”

FSW finished the season 54-3 overall and as the No. 2 ranked team in the NJCAA’s Division I poll at season’s end. For the nine weeks prior to the final vote, the Buccaneers were atop the rankings list and Bowers’ bat was a big part of that success.

In 56 games played, Bowers batted an impressive .410, which was second on the team amongst players with at least 20 games played. She led the team with 17 home runs, which ranked tied for 18th in the country, and also led the Buccaneers with 79 runs batted in (fourth in the nation).

Bowers added 18 doubles to her statline, another FSW team-high, and led all freshmen in the country with a 1.389 on-base plus slugging percentage.

“What made me successful was realizing that I wasn’t in over my head,” Bowers reflected. “I went in with a different mindset and confidence, and I had really good coaches. I believe no one worked as hard as I did and that helped alleviate the pressure of my role on the team. Being in a leadership role at Richmond (the last four years) let me know that I could do it.

“I didn’t really set the postseason awards as goals. I just wanted to do my best every day and felt it would all come together,” she continued. “I’m definitely proud of being the team’s home run and RBI leader. Obviously the team getting on base helped with that, and all my teammates were doing their job.”

Bowers credited her home run success to not just hitting the weight room, but doing a better job of “barreling up the ball.” While at Richmond, Bowers cranked 31 home runs in four years, which was the all-time program record until current senior Greyson Way broke it earlier this spring.

The road to her freshman year success started off with a bang when Bowers homered in FSW’s first fall league game, her only bomb of the season. From there, she worked herself into the starting rotation throughout her first semester, and when she returned to school in January, Bowers said that’s when “things got pretty real.”

In her first official at-bat in the team’s first game against Team Puerto Rico, a 17-1 mercy rule win in Clearwater, Fla., Bowers sent a ball into orbit for a grand slam. To open FSW’s conference schedule against St. Petersburg College, Bowers belted a pair of homers and a double for 10 total bases and four RBIs.

Bowers got more consistent playing time as her bat heated up, and when starting sophomore catcher Shanika Klett when down with an injury, Bowers filled the void. She rotated between catcher, right field and DP, and batted in the No. 3, 4 and 6 holes throughout the season.

The Buccaneers closed out the regular season with a 52-1 record and 19-1 in conference play and earned the No. 1 overall ranking in the Division I standings. In the Region VI state tournament, FSW would reach the title game but fall to Central Florida, and see its season come to an abrupt end in a nine-inning loss to Chipola College in the District H championship game.

“We got really hot as a team in the middle of the season, and I think there were a lot of nerves when we got to the playoffs,” Bowers commented. “There was such a different level of energy compared to anything I was used to. But I think I adjusted pretty well to that level all season, despite the competition being a lot tougher.”

As a junior college, FSW serves as a two-year stepping stone for collegiate players to break into the ranks of college softball across the country. Although the Bucs came up short of winning a hopeful national championship this year, Bowers is forging ahead toward her final year in purple and teal.

“Knowing how it feels to lose sucks, but I’m going to use that for next year,” she said. “My goals for next year are the same, meaning I’m not going to set any number goals. I want to just work as hard as I can, and I think I can do even better.

“In my end-of-year meeting, Coach (Robert) Iamurri asked where I wanted to go after FSW,” she closed. “I told him I don’t want to limit myself to anywhere, and he agreed. It all really depends on who offers me, but my mindset has always been to play at a big school with a really good program.”

In the classroom, Bowers made Dean’s List and recorded all As in her classes both semesters. She’ll report back to Fort Myers later this month to continue working out with her teammates and gear up her sophomore campaign.

Last modified on Friday, 14 June 2019 16:45
Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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