One might think that losing a player like Paige Lowary after this softball season would worry a coach about the next season. Dallas Center-Grimes softball coach Steve Schlafke doesn’t need to worry, however, as he has another pitcher, who is a freshman and bears the same last name as his star pitcher from this year.
Rachel Lowary, a freshman on this year’s DC-G softball team, started 14 games this season at pitcher (41 overall) and has the stats to suggest that she will be able to handle the workload next season. She finished with an earned run average of 0 in 85 innings pitched with 108 strikeouts, helping her to a perfect 14-0 record.
While she may get the ball in the circle a lot more next season, it was Paige who dominated opposing batters in most games for the Fillies this season. She finished with a 21-1 record in 155 innings pitched with an ERA of 0.18 and 264 strikeouts, which ranked her third in Class 4A and helped the Fillies to a second-straight state championship in 2014.
Having both of them be able to step in the circle and pitch the way they have this season is an “advantage” according to Schlafke.
“The way Rachel’s thrown this year and the way Paige has thrown, having her best season to date at the high school level, it’s a definite advantage because of the double headers the we play and the weekend tournaments and things like that so we don’t miss a beat regardless of who’s pitching,” Schlafke said.
Paige admitted that when she entered the DC-G softball program five years ago as an eighth grader, she was a nervous eighth grader.
“Over the years I’ve really learned to trust my teammates and have good composure,” Paige said. “Back in the day I used to think I had to do everything myself and I was such a perfectionist.”
The Fillies’ defense has been solid behind Paige this season with a 0.979 fielding percentage, which ranked first in the state for Class 4A and second overall, behind Cedar Rapids Jefferson. Their 21 errors on the season is second lowest in Class 4A behind Solon.
“I know my defense can make plays behind me, I can make a mistake, and I know they have my back,” Paige said.
When Paige was in eighth grade, she started in the program as an outfielder, but started pitching at the varsity level towards the end of the season. Paige helped the Fillies to the regional finals that year where they lost to Carlisle, the eventual state champion in Class 3A, in walk-off fashion.
“That was kind of the beginning of everything,” Schlafke said.
During her freshman campaign, she helped the Fillies reach the semifinals of the state tournament. She had a 32-5 record that year and a 1.09 ERA.
By her sophomore year she had lowered her ERA to 0.39 and helped the Fillies to the state championship game, where they lost to Indianola by a score of 1-0.
Last season, her junior year, the Fillies finally captured the state title, defeating Carlisle 5-2 in the finals. Paige had a 1.21 ERA last season with a 27-2 record.
“It’s been an interesting journey because she’s such a competitive person and she wants to win and she wants to be successful and she wants to have her team be successful as well,” Schlafke said.
Schlafke said that when people are competitive like Paige is, it’s hard for them to handle adversity, especially when they are young.
“It took a while for that to happen, but, that’s been the enjoyable part about that whole journey is that you see that progression and that maturity come along, being able to handle it,” Schlafke said. “Last year in the state tournament it was the easiest thing for me to see because she trusted her teammates, she didn’t think she had to do everything herself. She just threw the ball and let her defense play behind her, and we scored runs, and the rest of it was history as far as that season was concerned.”
During the Fillies’ state championship season a year ago was when they first showed the talents of Rachel in the circle. She played left field most of the season, but made her first start as the team’s pitcher in the Fillies’ sixth game of last season on June 1, 2013.
She pitched eight innings in that game, struck out seven batters and walked six more as the Fillies went on to win the game against Des Moines East 7-4, getting Rachel her first win as a varsity pitcher.
“I think I worked really hard in the offseason to become a lot better,” Rachel said. “It showed through the season.”
Throughout the season, Rachel said that seeing how Paige plays has helped her be successful in her freshman campaign.
“I get to see her (Paige) success and realize that you have to work to get what you want, and where you want to go and become state champions,” Rachel said.
Rachel has played most of this year at center field and is the only player on the team with a 1.000 fielding percentage, which also ties her for first in the state.
Paige and Rachel are both strong batters in addition to their dominance in the circle while pitching. Paige has a .432 batting average and Rachel has a .425 batting average, which are first and second on the team.
Next season, Paige will be wearing MU gold and black as she plans on attending the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri to play softball. She has been committed for about three years now.
“I just really felt like Missouri was the place for me, honestly, and I didn’t want to wait any longer,” Paige said.
The Fillies will have to say goodbye to Paige as this season comes to an end, but the name Lowary will remain on the roster for three more years.