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Freshman whiz helps solidify Thomas Jefferson infield

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It's typically rare to see a freshman playing as a regular starter on a high school softball team. It's even unique for a freshman to be named to the postseason all-section team.

But that's precisely what Thomas Jefferson's Rachael Bowers achieved in her freshman campaign for the Lady Jaguars.

The second baseman/shortstop made what appeared to be a seamless transition from middle school softball to the varsity level. For Bowers, being named a Section 3-AAA all-star is an added bonus.

“I'm honored,” Bowers said. “I just love playing softball. I go out there because I love to play, and when you get awarded or recognized it just makes you feel that all your hard work has paid off.”

While Bowers and the Lady Jaguars did not have the type of season they would have liked, finishing 3-12 (2-10 in section play), first year head coach Heidi Karcher said she believes Bowers will lead an improving team — that only loses one senior — for years to come.

“The future looks pretty bright for us, but we're going to have to still work extremely hard,” Karcher said. “We can't sit back and say, ‘we're going to lay low since we only lost one senior.' I'm pretty excited about what's to come.”

“(Bowers) is going to definitely be a leader and absolutely take on that leadership role.”

Bowers, who describes herself as more of a power hitter, batted .375 this season with one home run and five RBI, and scored eight runs.

She punched out 15 hits in 40 plate appearances, and did not strike out nor walk once all season.

According to Karcher, Bowers impressed not only with her bat, but her glove as well.

“Her bat was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal,” Karcher said. “Her bat speed, the way the ball came off the bat, she was just hitting bullets into the outfield.

“Defensively, I had to move her from second base to shortstop because we were struggling at short; she was like a vacuum at shortstop.”

While most freshmen require a learning curve to compete at the varsity level, Bowers' transition was not as difficult as most. Karcher credits that to Bowers' play on the Pittsburgh Power club team.

The main thing Bowers had to adjust to simply was getting to know her older teammates and their tendencies out on the diamond.

“Definitely, adjusting to playing with the older girls,” she said. “I hadn't played with them in awhile, so definitely getting a feel for how everyone plays and how I should play (was an adjustment).”

Looking ahead to next year, Bowers is looking to refine a few parts of her game in order to hopefully catapult her to yet another banner season.

“I need to be practicing my basic fundamentals because you always have to go back to basics,” she said.

“I'm at that age where you need to just tweak what you can and develop some more skills in the area I'm going to play, and practice on my quickness and stuff like that.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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