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Top 25 Countdown 2021

Top 25 Countdown No. 4: Bowser’s Video Game Season

Natalie Bowser rounds first base after hitting a home run against Moniteau in the D9 2A championship game, her 14th home run of the season. Photo by Jim McConnell is counting down what we believe are the Top 25 moments/games/performances of the 2020-21 high school sports season in District 9 and District 10.

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No. 4: Natalie Bowser – Video Game Numbers

At first blush, the numbers Keystone sophomore Natalie Bowser put up during the 2021 softball season don’t seem real.

A .766 batting average, 14 home runs, 15 doubles, 48 RBIs (in 19 games), 32 runs scored, a .808 on-base percentage, and a 2.558 OPS.

When you look even closer you might think she was a video-game player (not playing the video game, actually in the video game). She made 14 outs all season. Yes, you read that correctly, Bowser committed 14 outs while hitting 14 home runs. That may very well be a stat that District 9 has never seen before and may never see again. She also ended the season on an eight-game home-run hitting streak. Yes, she hit at least one home run in each of her final eight games.

If all those offensive numbers aren’t mind-boggling enough on their own, there was her pitching.

She went 7-3 with a 1.85 ERA while striking out a batter an inning (63 in 63 innings of work) while walking 14.

Bowser was the District 9 Softball Player of the Year AND Rookie of the Year (yes, these numbers all game in her first-ever varsity softball season). She was also named a first-team Class 2A Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association All-State first baseman and was the KSAC MVP.

And the numbers weren’t just for show.

Led by Bowser, Keystone, which had gone 3-12 in 2019, the last time they played before her arrival, and 2-10 in 2018, went 14-5 in 2021 and finished second in District 9 Class 2A, its highest finish since winning the D9 1A title in 2013.

Bowser’s pinnacle moment may have come in the District 9 semifinals, a 1-0 win over Johnsonburg.

In that contest, Bowser was the winning pitcher throwing a 4-hit shutout walking two and striking out 11. She also accounted for the game’s only run, a mammouth home run to left field in the fourth inning.

In the D9 title game against Moniteau, the Lady Warriors, who she had beaten with a sixth-inning grand slam in the regular-season finale, 6-5, were determined not to let Bowser beat them.

In her five plate appearances in the title game, a 16-13 Moniteau victory, she was intentionally walked four times.

Moniteau wished it had been five.

In her lone official at-bat, with the game tied at seven in the bottom of the third, Moniteau pitcher Courtney Stewart threw two balls out of the strike zone for balls and then tried a third one out of the zone. But Bowser went up and got it and launched another no-doubt-about-it home run to left field to give Keystone the lead.

Bowser’s season will not be forgotten anytime soon and may be considered one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of District 9 regardless of sport.

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