Thomas Jefferson freshman named offensive MVP at World Indoor Cup tourney
Rachael Bowers already has achieved a lot on the softball diamond.
The sport she loves even has taken her overseas to the 2013 World Indoor Cup softball tournament, where she became the youngest offensive most valuable player in tournament history.
Rachael, 15, and her parents, Bob and Laurie Bowers, of Jefferson Borough, traveled to Rotterdam, Netherlands for the tournament in January.
Rachael competed on one of six North American Select fast-pitch softball teams assembled by QSports, a company that also operates the Queen of Diamonds softball recruiting events in Ohio and South Carolina.
Kirt Whiteside, of Columbus, Ohio, is founder of Qsports. He believes Rachael's exceptional hitting ability, maturity and personality made her an easy choice to compete in Rotterdam at the Indoor World Cup tournament.
He said; “In addition to being talented, (Rachael's) a really nice girl. We're careful about who we take on this trip. We make sure they're kind and get along with everyone. We don't take prima donnas.”
Whiteside not only was impressed with Rachael's character, but also with her offensive performance during the Netherlands tournament.
After organizing the tournament for 17 years, Whiteside understands softball talent.
“She's got great potential. She batted over .600 with 19 at-bats, and she had more RBIs than anyone else,” Whiteside said. “She's this little spunky girl. She's the youngest player ever to win the (offensive MVP) award.”
According to Whiteside, comparable offensive MVP winners from European teams were older and had played in the Olympics. He is confident Bowers has Division I potential.
“She has a big future on the hitting side,” Whiteside said.
Rachael was happy with her performance at the tournament.
“Being one of the youngest players, I just wanted to go over and have fun,” said Rachael, who is a freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School. “So, I was really surprised when I won the MVP (award).”
North American Select teams, assembled by Qsports from among the participants of the Queen of Diamond showcases, have been traveling to Europe for the past 17 years to participate in the Netherlands indoor tournament.
Whiteside believes it's a great opportunity to share the sport with the world.
This year's tournament included teams from Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France and Poland and the Netherlands.
“We really wanted to bring the strength of American fast-pitch to Europe,” Whiteside said. “It has grown bigger every year.”
Whiteside also believes it helps the young players beyond the softball diamond. The trip includes sight-seeing in Paris and at historical sites.
“Fast-pitch opens the door for them to the world stage,” Whiteside said. “They get to play softball, see Anne Frank's house, and the next day they're standing on top of the Eiffel Tower. It's electric.”
This year, the teams also participated in a clinic to help teach fast-pitch softball to Dutch youth.
Rachael, who also plays for the Pittsburgh Power 16U tournament team, enjoyed everything about the trip.
“I got to see a lot of different cultures and meet a lot of different people,” she said.
Despite her youth, Rachael will bring a lot of experience to the Thomas Jefferson softball program, which will be guided by first-year head coach Heidi Karcher.
In addition to her bat skills, Rachael pitches, plays third base, and can fill a middle infield position.
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.