Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week

Royal pitcher Nancy Bowling shows intensity in recent outing. John T. Thorsen/ESPNHS

Before going to Arizona, Royal’s Bowling looking to roll up some strikes and pin some losses on her team’s opponents.

Had 2009 State Freshman of the Year Nancy Bowling from Royal of Simi Valley not missed a huge portion of her junior year due to a partial tear of her left patellar tendon, there’s little doubt the fireballing right-handed pitcher would be pushing for a spot in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book for career strikeouts.

Despite last year’s setback, the Arizona-bound student-athlete returned from the injury and hasn’t missed a beat.

Now, after her performances last week, all season, coupled with a near 4.0 GPA, plus overcoming the injury, Bowling has been named the latest ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week.

Last week, Bowling completed the two-week Loara Tournament in Anaheim by leading the Highlanders to the tournament championship while not yielding a run in any of the four games.

In a 3-0 title-game victory over Garden Grove, she fanned 10 batters. It was the 11th time this season Bowling has posted double-digit strikeouts, all against tournament competition and ultra-tough Marmonte League foes.

After learning she was being honored, Nancy went to the circle on Thursday with her 65 to 67-mile-per-hour fastball and mean screwball, and posted her 17th shutout this season, tossing a one-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 3-0 blanking of Thousand Oaks. Note: Stats from Friday’s 3-2 showdown win against state-ranked Simi Valley were not included in this article.

The eight whiffs pushed her total this year to 201 strikeouts and 852 for her career. She also went to 21-2 on the season for the Cal-Hi Sports No. 10 ranked team.

Bowling also does pretty well with bat in hand. She’s hit over .300 for Royal every year. This season, she’s currently hitting .393 with a home run, three doubles and 18 runs batted in.

Pitching assortment

Besides her blistering fastball and the screw, Nancy has a riseball, curve, drop and a changeup.

“I like my screwball,” she told Cal-Hi Sports. “It took me a long time to figure out how to throw it but now it’s my most effective pitch.”

Hitting versus pitching

“Hitting is a battle just like pitching. I like the way it feels when the ball comes off the bat solid.”

Team leadership and goals

“I’m one of the captains, but I’ve never been that good with words. I will talk to the team but mostly I try to lead by example. We all motivate each other. It’s a team thing. We click.”

“As a team, we want to go as far in CIF (CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs) as possible. We have 10 seniors and it’s our last shot so we’re going all out. Personally, my goal is to win CIF, that’s it.”

Coach’s comments

“I’ve coached a lot of young women in my lifetime but only a handful have the specialness that Nancy has,” said 10-year Royal coach Bill Dishon, who works in commercial glass but claims he’s retired to coach girls softball.

“Her best asset is her tenaciousness,” continued Dishon, who’s won four league titles and guided Royal’s 2005 team (which went 29-2) to the No. 1 overall state ranking.

“She has that competitiveness that doesn’t come with everyone. She’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. When it comes to game time, Nancy’s all about business. Off the field, she’s just another teenager.”

College and future plans

“I love Arizona. I fell in love with the campus, the coaches. Everything about if felt just right.”

“I’m not totally sure what I want to do. I’m going to study kinesiology or business, but I’ve been around softball my whole life and I don’t know what I’ll do without it, so I want to stay around the sport as long as I can.”

No time for other sports…even bowling

When you start playing softball at age 4 and work your way all the way up to the OC Batbusters, one of the nation’s top club teams, there’s not much time for other sports.

“I tried dancing and gymnastics but I’m not really that coordinated so it didn’t work out that well,” she giggled.

And what about the sport that’s the family namesake?

“I tried bowling for fun but I’m not very good at it,” she giggled again.


Nancy’s father, Bill Bowling, is an engineer that “played some football in his day,” according to his daughter.

There was another giggle when Nancy was asked about her mother and biggest fan, Debi Bowling. “My mom was not really an athlete but she tried.”

The baby of the family has two older siblings. Her 29-year-old brother, Justin Eldridge, played multi-sports. Her sister, Margaret Bowling, who is currently attending junior college and working, played softball until high school.

Nancy’s favorites

Team: “Angels.”

Player: “Peter Bourjos and Jered Weaver. He’s from Simi Valley. That’s why I like him.”

Coincidentally, Bowling’s telephone interview came on the morning of Weaver’s no-hitter.

Movie: “For the Love of the Game and Moneyball.”

Car: “Either a Lamborghini or a Corvette. I like fast cars.”

Vacation spot: “Between Ireland and Spain but definitely Spain.”

Advice for young girls

One thing Nancy does have time for is giving back to the softball community by giving lessons to little girls and advising them as well.

“I always tell them not to try and over think and just have fun. Playing softball is a learning experience and taking failure in softball is learning. You can’t improve if you don’t fail.”

You can send AOW nominations to mark.tennis@espn.com or tweet them to us @CalHiSports. Don't forget to follow Harold Abend on Twitter: @HaroldAbend