College Softball: Bowler sisters — Dana (Ferris State) and Kelly (Lewis) — meet in pitching duel
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media April 19, 2013 6:38PM
Lewis sophomore pitcher Kelly Bowler with her sister, Ferris State senior pitcher Dana Bowler. | Tim Tierney~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 22, 2013 6:50AM
The Bowler sisters have earned a lot of softball victories over the years, pitching for youth teams, Lockport High School and now in college.
But Tuesday was a first for Dana and Kelly.
Dana, a senior at Ferris State, and Kelly, a sophomore at Lewis, were in the circle for their teams in the opener of a doubleheader at Lewis while mom and dad tried to remain neutral in the stands.
“I brought two hats, one from each side,’’ Mike Bowler said. “Whoever was pitching, I would switch and put their hat on.’’
Dana can claim family bragging rights when the sisters are home in the summer or for the holidays after a two-run homer in the sixth inning gave Ferris State a 2-0 victory.
“This was the first time we pitched against each other or played against each other,’’ Dana said. “I knew it was going to be a close game because she’s a good pitcher. I’m just glad we came out on top.’’
“I was trying to stay neutral, so I wore orange,’’ Joan Bowler said. “I didn’t want to get yelled at from either kid, so I figured I’d stay neutral.
“I just wanted them to have fun and it to be close.’’
With a smile, Kelly said Dana won’t let her forget the outcome.
“She will always remind me of this,’’ Kelly said, laughing. “Whenever we’re being competitive with something, it will come up, I’m sure. Thirty years from now, when we’re talking to our kids.’’
Lewis threatened to tie the score with runners at second and third in the bottom of the sixth. The inning ended when Alyssa Moseley lined out to third base.
“I was a little nervous,’’ Dana said. “In situations like that, I just have to trust my defense. I was just throwing strikes. I didn’t want to walk anyone.’’
Dana retired the side in order in the seventh — groundout, strikeout, groundout — and calmly congratulated her teammates.
“I knew it was going to be a close game,’’ Kelly said. “She’s an incredible pitcher. She’s been breaking records this year. She threw a perfect game earlier in the year. It just came down to that one pitch.’’
“I was pretty confident, I’m not going to lie,’’ Dana said. “I played Lewis two years ago before Kelly was on the team. I knew they were aggressive and they’re good hitters, so I was prepared.’’
Lewis outhit Ferris State 6-4, with senior Michelle Vucsko (Marist) getting two hits for the Flyers.
Dana (9-6, 1.68 ERA) struck out six with no walks while Kelly (9-6, 1.98 ERA) had five strikeouts and three walks.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,’’ Kelly said. “I don’t usually get nervous for games anymore. It was a different kind of experience getting ready for today than any other game.’’
The teams didn’t face each other last season. Longtime Lewis coach George DiMatteo wanted to renew the match-up this year with Kelly playing for the Flyers and Dana being a senior.
“We thought it’d be a cool thing, and do it at Lewis because of the Lockport connections,’’ DiMatteo said. “They have another Lockport player, Morgan Kramerich, and our third baseman, Jessica Rourke. We had four Lockport people here.’’
Growing up and playing softball in Lockport had the normal experiences between siblings doing the same sport.
“I was always the one who’d say ‘Kelly, let’s go take flyballs,’ ’’ Dana said. “She wouldn’t want to because she would rather play with Dad than me. She would rather pitch with my dad. He had to be out there so we wouldn’t fight.’’
Dana said the two went to a lot of one another’s games when they were younger “and kind of helped each other out.’’
When asked who’s more competitive, Dana said, “We’re both competitive. I’m just more vocal about it.’’
Kelly said Lewis assistant coach Sara Somogyi asked her who the better athlete is between the two sisters.
“I said, ‘It’s hard to say,’ ’’ Kelly said. “We’re both so similar in so many different aspects of our lives — emotionally, everything.’’
Dana has the softball victory in her favor, so Kelly might be looking for a way to even the score.
“We’re both good at all kinds of sports,’’ Kelly said. “I’ll have to find something. Maybe basketball ... I’m taller than her.’’