When the undefeated University of Mobile Rams softball team beat Talladega College 8–0 in the first game of a conference doubleheader 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 helped set as outfielders on the 1997 Rams softball team. Other 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.”
The 2022 team won its games at the regional championship tournament May 16–18 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. On June 1, the team played in the national championship game in Columbus, Georgia, but lost to the Oklahoma City University Stars. The Stars had more than 50 wins this season. The Rams ended the season 52–4.
Southern States Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Alison Sellers-Cook said the 2022 team has a special chemistry that brings them together.
“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.”
‘Like their moms’
“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,” 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.”
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,” Jennifer said. “They all, of course, laughed. I really do think it would be a great game between two amazing teams.”