Clover's Brittany Jo Bowman is only 5-foot-4, but on the softball field she's a giant among her peers.
Bowman, The Herald's All-Area Softball Player of the Year, plays one of the most important positions on the field -- catcher. She's earned a reputation as one of the best players in the state, and not only because she led her team to the Region 3-AAAA title.
"I love being back there," Bowman said. "I got put behind the plate my freshman season because our catcher graduated. I had been a third baseman before that, but I enjoyed catching from the start. I found out I really liked calling the shots."
Clover's Shea Hall, The Herald's All-Area Softball Coach of the Year, didn't have a problem with Bowman taking charge.
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With her experience and never-quit attitude, Bowman was Hall's coach on the field. She played a major role in Clover winning the region championship after moving up to Class AAAA last year. The Lady Blue Eagles were 21-7, 13-1 in the region.
"We have some good girls at Clover," said Hall, the Lady Blue Eagles' coach for seven seasons. "They are good athletes who work hard and realize we have a tradition of good softball here at Clover.
"At the very beginning of the season, I noticed our players carried themselves a little different, that they were pushing each other to do well. They had confidence they could and would win. We finally had a group that plays in the summer, and I think that helps because they want to push forward each year and not just be content with making the playoffs."
Clover lost only one game in the region, 4-3 to Lancaster. It rebounded the next day with a big win, 13-2, over a very good Nation Ford team.
Hall saw something special that day, but said she really began believing her girls could win the region title after playing in the spring break Azalea Tournament in Summerville.
"Going into the Azalea, we were in the top four teams," Hall said. "We played four games on the final day and won two in the seventh inning. That fired us up for when we got back to Clover."
Bowman was fired up all season, wanting to close out her high school career on the upswing.
She batted .470 with seven doubles, five triples, two home runs, 22 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Bowman was named to the 2008 CAWS North-South All-Star team and was all-state, all-region and Region 3-AAAA Player of the Year.
Bowman signed a scholarship with Florence-Darlington Tech, where she'll move to shortstop. She went down for a tryout and Stingers coach Heber Watson asked her mom if Bowman could play short. After seeing her on the infield, Watson told her to come on down and she would start next season.
In her spare time, Bowman helps Hall work with youth players in Clover and said she's thrilled that one was recently named to the all-star team. One day, Bowman said, it will be their turn to pull on the Lady Blue Eagles' uniform.
"I'll be back to watch them play, but it'll be different not being part of the team," she said. "It's been fun, and Clover softball has been a big part of my life. I'm glad I'm leaving in one way, but in another I'm not."
Hall, also Clover's volleyball coach, cut her teeth at Ware Shoals High School, where she played volleyball, basketball and softball. She also played at Erskine.
"Since I've been coaching softball, it's always been in a competitive situation no matter what region we were in," Hall said. "I've enjoyed our two seasons in Class AAAA. The travel is good and it has allowed us to form some new rivalries. Our entire athletic program has shown it belongs to be in Class AAAA.
"Next year, we are losing two good starters, Brittany Jo and Lindsey Provine. I don't think it's kicked in yet that Brittany will not be out there next year."