MOBILE, Ala. – When the undefeated University of Mobile Rams softball team beat Talladega College 8-0 in the first game of a conference double-header in March, outfielders Katie Head and Carleigh Bowden weren’t thinking about breaking records.
But their mothers were.
Lesley Head and Jennifer Bowden sat in the stands watching their daughters and teammates break a 28-win-streak all-time program record the moms had helped set as outfielders on the 1997 Rams softball team. Members of the 1997 team were also on hand to watch their 25-year record fall and cheer on the next generation of Rams softball standouts.
It was a proud moment for the mothers who had passed on to their daughters a love of the game – and a love for their alma mater.
“In 1997 when we set the win streak, I knew it would be very hard to break. Little did I know that my daughter would be a part of the team that would eventually tie, and then shatter, that record,” said Jennifer. “It was a very emotional day for me when I watched Carleigh and her teammates walk off the field that day with a new record. It brought back so many awesome memories of my years as a Ram.”
Lesley said it was “an awesome feeling and honorable moment for my very own daughter, and my best friend’s daughter who is like my own, to be on the team that broke the record. There’s not many, if any at all, mothers and daughters who can actually tell and share this type of story, but the four of us can and that’s something that can never be taken away.”
The 2022 team goes to the regional championship tournament Monday in Gulf Shores, Alabama as the No. 1 overall seed in the National Association of Intercollege Athletics (NAIA) world series – with an impressive 46-2 season and a new all-time program record of 34 consecutive wins.
SSAC Coach of the Year Alison Sellers-Cook said the 2022 team has a special chemistry that brings them together to win – and to love, support and encourage one another.
“They truly want each other to do well. I can’t tell you how many times my starters have come and said ‘put that kid in for me.’ The thing about college athletics – the bond you make in that college experience is something that lasts a lifetime,” Sellers-Cook said.
Carleigh said following in her mother’s footsteps hasn’t always been easy – Jennifer’s name is listed on the dugout “wall of awards” as All-Conference in 1997 and 1999. That’s where Carleigh wants to see her name, as well. Both Carleigh and Katie were named to the 2022 SSAC Softball Second Team All-Conference, and Carleigh was named to the All-Freshman team.
“Carleigh is a little fireball. She’s just gritty. She makes things happen. She does what she’s supposed to do and does it well,” said Sellers-Cook. “Katie is an absolute goofball. She keeps us entertained and keeps everything light.
“Both of them want to win. Both are a lot like their moms. They know what it takes to win; they know the drive and the heart and desire it takes to do it.”
Katie said she had always been told her mom was a pretty good ball player and outfielder and “naturally, I always felt that I had to be better, because we’re both so competitive.” When she learned her team had broken her mom’s 1997 team record, “my first thought about it was, ‘Oh cool, y’all aren’t the cool ones anymore; we are!’”
Both Lesley and Jennifer said they were thankful for their own experience as student-athletes at the University of Mobile and were overjoyed when their daughters chose UM.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling as a mom to have her daughter, who has worked so hard for so long, live out her dreams of being a college softball player – and see it all come to fruition at the same college that I went to,” Lesley said.
Katie agreed. “I love being able to say that I’m going to the same school that my mom went to, play on the same field she played on, and go to school playing the sport I love, like she did. There aren’t very many people that can say that, and I feel blessed to even be able to say those things.”
Katie is a junior majoring in kinesiology and plans to pursue a career in speech pathology or speech therapy. Carleigh is a freshman majoring in kinesiology with a pre-physical therapy concentration.
Carleigh said she chose UM because “when I went on a tour, it felt like home. The atmosphere and the people are amazing. Your professors get to know you on a personal level, which can come in handy if you are struggling with something in the classroom.”
Although she has just completed her freshman year, Carleigh said she has already built friendships that will last a lifetime.
“The girls on this team will always be there to help you when you need it. No matter what you’re going through, there will always be someone there beside you picking you up and cheering you on,” Carleigh said.
Carleigh’s mother said she treasures the friendships she made as a UM student, and she values the education she received as well.
“Having the experience to play at the University of Mobile had a huge impact on my life. I now use my physical education degree to teach and make an impact on the lives of students every day,” said Jennifer, who is a physical education teacher and softball coach at Saraland Middle School.
Meanwhile, the competitive spirit lives on.
When their daughters’ team broke the record, “I did make the comment that I thought our ’97 team could probably beat them,” said Jennifer. “They all, of course laughed. I really do think it would be a great game between two amazing teams.”
Banner picture from left: Jennifer and Carleigh Bowden, Katie and Lesley Head
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university offering on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.