ST. MARYS — All athletes hope to be able to “go out” on their own terms, but that certainly wasn’t the case for seniors who played spring sports with all seasons being cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All those players missed out on their final season of their respective high school sport just as they were preparing to begin the year. While it was a hard fact for players to accept, it was doubly hard for St. Marys senior Madeline “Maddie” Bowes.
That’s because the Lady Dutch senior was excited to step back on the softball diamond after a severe knee injury forced her to virtually miss her entire junior year of sports. She returned to volleyball in the fall, but she was really looking forward to playing her favorite sport (softball) again and showing what all her hard work in rehabbing her knee had done.
Fortunately for Bowes, she will continue her softball career in college.
“Since I had to take my junior season off due to a knee injury, I was most looking forward to playing one more season on this team with girls I have grown up playing with my whole life,” said Bowes. “This year was our year to shine as a team, and I was extremely looking forward to what we could have accomplished this season.
“I am extra upset that our season got cancelled this year due to the coronavirus because of what happened my junior year. It all began in the summer before my junior year during a softball tournament game. I went for a ball, switching directions, and landed wrong on my knee. I could not walk off of the field that day. I did physical therapy for the remainder of summer and was cleared for volleyball.
“No sooner, in the fall of my junior year I was playing in a varsity volleyball game when I came down wrong from a kill. In this play I tore my meniscus and completely ruptured my ACL. Shortly after this injury, I found out I would need knee reconstruction surgery, as well as nine months recovery time. I was heartbroken when I heard this news because I have always been active when it comes to sports for as long as I can remember.
“Next, I underwent the surgery leaving me unable to walk for two weeks. The pain was unimaginable, but the hardest part was yet to come. There were so many times I felt like giving up, and thought I may never play any sport again. I did my best to persevere through the pain by doing physical therapy and rehab.
“Now for the hardest part, watching the game I love instead of playing it. Along with the fear of never playing again, I went to every softball game (as a junior) to cheer on my Lady Dutch teammates regardless. Thankfully, after eight long months of no activity I could return to sports. I was optimistic going into volleyball season (even gaining an additional ankle injury at the beginning of the season), and had the highest aspirations for my winter and spring seasons as well.
“Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to play my final season as a Lady Dutch softball player to prove that I battled back from this injury, thus leaving my last game in my sophomore season.”
Outside of softball and volleyball, Bowes also competed in basketball and swimming and diving at the high school level. If not for her injury and her senior year being cancelled, Bowes would have earned four varsity letters in softball and collected three in volleyball.
She also lettered her lone year (senior) on the swimming & diving team. In basketball, she was a JV letterwinner as a freshman and sophomore before her knee injury.
Bowes played softball in all levels outside of school, whether it was Little League or travel ball with the St. Marys Pounders teams. She also played youth soccer and participated in gymnastics growing up as well as swam for the Blue Tide Swim Team.
“My favorite part about high school sports teams, or any team for that matter, is the friendship you create among your teammates, and the countless memories shared between your sports ‘family,’” said Bowes. “My favorite sport is softball because I have played ever since I was young and always loved the game.
“My parents signed me up for t-ball, and I have loved the game ever since. The most interesting thing about softball is the bond between teammates over the years. Softball was always a very important aspect in my life.”
In softball, Bowes was a starter at the varsity level from the very beginning as a freshman. She played multiple positions that first season before settling in as a second baseman. She it .254 (17-for-71) as a freshman with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 17 RBIs and 17 runs on a squad that went 8-12.
Full stats were not available for Bowes’ sophomore year as helped the Lady Dutch go 13-8 and finish as the District 9 Class 4A runner-up to rival Punxsutawney.
As for her favorite sports memory, Bowes pointed to the 2016 Section 1 Tournament championship game when she was playing Little League for the St. Marys Junior league All-Stars.
“The game came down to a tie in the ninth inning, and with Britney Shaw on third base, I stepped up to the plate,” said Bowes. “All we needed was one run to win the game. With a full count on me, I hit a ball to left field and Britney Shaw scored the game winning run.
“As we won, the whole team ran to home plate, jumping on top of Britney and every girl was in tears. It was this moment, shared with amazing teammates, that I will never forget.”
St. Marys went on to place third at states that year.
Outside of sports, Bowes is a member of National Honor Society part of the Mock Accident 2020 Cast.
The daughter of Aaron and Colleen Bowes, the Lady Dutch senior has a younger brother Samuel who competes in golf, basketball and track.
Bowes credits many people with making an impact in her life along the way.
“I appreciate every coach who has ever taken the time to coach my teammates and I,” she said. “Outside of softball, I have been inspired by my middle school and junior varsity basketball coach. I had the pleasure of being coached by Bob Swanson, who is a coach who taught me many things about the sport of basketball, but more importantly about life.
“As for softball, I was inspired by my Pounders softball coach who never gave up on me. Eric Weisner started the original Saint Marys Pounders travel team when I was in second grade, and has treated me like his own daughter ever since.
“The biggest inspiration in my life has coached me since I was 5, and is my own dad. He pushed me to never give up, and to be the best player I could be. His favorite saying to me was, ‘There is always someone better, so you can always work harder.’ He also coached my brother and I in everything he could throughout the years. I’m truly thankful for everything my parents have done for me.”
After graduation, Bowes will attend Carlow University in Pittsburgh to earn a nursing BSN degree and play softball with a scholarship for the Celtics. She then plans to attend a graduate school to become a nurse practitioner.