A high school softball game story. It ran in the Daily News-Record on June 6, 2014.
BEDFORD, Va. — They call him “Man-Bow.”
He is Eddie Bowman, father of Turner Ashby High School softball coach Laura Bowman. It is a nickname of endearment; it is a nickname of utility.
There are three Bowmans, including Laura’s sister Kaitlyn, to distinguish among on the Knights’ coaching staff: Coach Bowman (Laura), K-Bow (Kaitlyn) and, of course, Man-Bow, who probably earned an assist in TA’s 9-0 win over Patrick County in a 3A West regional semifinal Thursday at Liberty High School.
The undefeated Knights (24-0) glided by Patrick County (21-3) to clinch a berth in the 3A state tournament, thanks to typically dominating performance in the circle by Natalie Helmick, three RBIs from Bre Bosley and a Man-Bow-aided 4-for-5, three-run performance by leadoff hitter Cana Davis.
The freshman center fielder said she had been slumping until Thursday’s showing, which included a triple, a double and two singles.
“I kind of just pulled out of my slump this past game,” Davis said. “I hadn’t been hitting like I usually have. I just couldn’t get the ball off the ground, just grounding out.
“My hands were just leaking out when I was loading. I’d let my hands … out before I hit the ball, so I lost all my power.”
Enter Man-Bow. Laura Bowman said her father worked with Davis, with whom he developed a rapport last year while Davis was on the JV team. Eddie Bowman said he just reminded Davis of hitting fundamentals, and Davis said she straightened things out by hitting Wiffle balls off a tee.
“My dad — Man-Bow, as they call him — they have a really good connection,” Laura Bowman said of Davis and her father. “… She told him before this game, at our last practice, that it was going to be back today. They just have little talks and little confidence things.”
Davis was certainly back, and her triple — a drive to center field in the seventh inning — was feet short of being a home run.
The Knights’ mighty offense had 15 hits. TA took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never let up, adding two runs in the third inning and two more in the fourth off RBIs by Jordon Will, Katrina Martin and Bosley.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Alexa Sheets hit her fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot, to give TA an 8-0 lead. Olivia Cook made it 9-0 with an RBI single.
Bosley, Martin and Kierstin Roadcap each added two hits for the Knights, who face Brookville on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Liberty High School for the regional title after dispatching Patrick County.
“They’re a really solid team; they hit the ball really hard; they put it in play; they execute the small-ball part of the game; they do the little things right,” PCHS coach Philip Steagall said of TA. “Pitcher was a quality pitcher … and they definitely shut us down today. It’s probably the first game all year that we’ve been below seven hits.”
Helmick (22-0), a sophomore right-hander, tossed a two-hit shutout and struck out seven for TA. She walked three while going 1-for-4 at the plate and helping the Knights to the regional championship game. They are seeking their first regional title since 2009 and sixth overall.
Bosley said it’s been a total effort.
“There’s no way we could have gotten this far this year without everybody’s help,” the Knights’ lone senior said. “Whether they’re on the bench waving a towel, handing out water, making the game-winning run — everyone is together.”