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Pitch Perfect

Senior ace tosses first career perfect game

by Published: Apr 3, 2013

040313_Bowler_CarlsonA streak of yel­low shot into the skies over Caledonia, as Ferris senior pitcher Dana Bowler wheeled around to see the streak slow as it returned to earth.

Ranging over was Ferris junior left fielder Alex Wittman, as the ball sank and set­tled into her out­stretched glove. Wittman threw her arms into the air; it was a per­fect game.

“When Alex caught that last out and looked right at me scream­ing with joy, I knew they all real­ized it,” Bowler said. “It just felt great.”

The game lasted an hour, much to do with Bowler’s fast work on the mound, strik­ing out eight of the 15 bat­ters she faced over five innings.

To throw a per­fect game is enough, but per­haps more impres­sive was Bowler’s bold pre­dic­tion as she warmed up for her his­toric day.

“Well, actu­ally, it’s a funny story,” Bowler said. “When I was warm­ing up, Lainee [Clay] asked me how I was feel­ing, and I told her before the game that I was going to throw a no-hitter.”

The state­ment defied all sports super­sti­tions, even those out­side the world of base­ball and soft­ball. For some­one to say ‘No-Hitter’ let alone ‘Perfect Game’ dur­ing the midst of a bid for one is enough to jinx the whole thing completely.

Yet Bowler stared super­sti­tion in the face and it cow­ered before her on this day. Not only did she boldly pre­dict her game, she attacked the strike zone aggres­sively, throw­ing 35 strikes on 47 pitches.

“I have seen her throw that well before,” Clay said. “Things just fell into place for her.”

The last out itself was a hur­dle that Bowler had stum­bled over before. Much like any start­ing pitcher who sees suc­cess at any level, Bowler erased mem­o­ries of near per­fect games past and fin­ished off Lake Erie third base­men Morgan Studd.

“Last year I was one out away from a per­fect game, and I knew that those girls really wanted this for me,” Bowler said.

Bowler has car­ried the load on the mound for the Bulldogs thus far this sea­son, start­ing with her 7–4 record. She has tossed 11 com­plete games in 12 starts; the per­fect game was her third shutout of the season.

She has pushed the Lady Bulldogs to a hot start as they ended the week­end of March 30 on a six-game win streak, which puts them into sec­ond place behind Grand Valley State as of March 31.

Every year we’ve fallen a few wins short of mak­ing it to region­als,” Bowler said. “We had to rely on the con­fer­ence tour­na­ment. That’s a lot of pressure.”

What Bowler has shown out­side of her skill and con­sis­tency is sta­mina, toss­ing 15 innings on one day.

“Her pitches got bet­ter as the games went on,” senior catcher Liz Hamming said. “She’s always con­fi­dent, and I think [Dana] will con­tinue to dom­i­nate teams this season.”

Winning early cer­tainly alle­vi­ates late sea­son pres­sure, as Bowler and the Bulldogs well know. Ferris State’s fiery burst out of the gates is sure to have them loose as the sea­son continues.