Woodgrove junior Kaleb Bowman returns to the mound

May 1

Between Woodgrove junior Kaleb Bowman‘s high school spring season and the summer and fall with the EvoShield Canes U-17 travel team, he piled up 105 innings pitched. The grueling stretch caused soreness before this season began, and after talks with Wolverines Coach Brad Bauder he felt it was best to rest his arm for the first month of the season.

Bowman didn’t get his first appearance on the mound until a spring break game against Freedom-South Riding on April 14, when he threw six pitches in one inning of relief work with one strikeout. His next outing was April 22 against Champe, when he pitched two innings in middle relief with five strikeouts and one walk.

The ace for the Wolverines (7-1) was scheduled to start Wednesday night at Jefferson, but the game was postponed because of a constant downpour.

“It was hard at first watching them play and I couldn’t contribute, but since they were doing well it helped a lot,” Bowman said.

Bowman hasn’t started a high school game game since June 4 against Warhill in Woodgrove’s 12-inning Virginia AA quarterfinal win, but he said the velocity is up on his fastball, with it being clocked at 90 mph. Last season, he earned honorable mention All-Met honors after going 8-2 with 101 strikeouts in 75 innings.

The South Carolina commit isn’t a stranger to adverse situations. In October of 2012, he was in a car accident on his way to the Perfect Game WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers, Fla. with his father behind the wheel. The crash left him and his father stranded in Hardeeville, S.C. (population 3, 772) for 12 hours. The car was totaled, and Bowman suffered an injury.

“My knee got banged into the dashboard, and we were going to turn around,” Bowman said. “But we were sitting in a gas station, and we thought it would be best to finish the rest of the way.”

The accident forced him to miss pitching in front of 25 college scouts who were in southwestern Florida on the day he would have pitched. Instead, just two college recruiters watched him work the consolation game. Bowman had his best stuff on that Sunday, and his fastball hit 84 mph while his curveball had a lot of bite.

“God showed how he works in mysterious ways,” Bowman said. “I missed the colleges at the big tournament days, but when I finally got down there I pitched the best I ever have.”

After the game, Canes Coach Dan Gitzen gave him the phone number to one of the coaches who was there and asked Bowman to call him, but he neglected to tell the pitcher who the recruiter was. Bowman called, and South Carolina assistant coach Sammy Esposito was on the other end of the line. That day, the Gamecocks made him an offer.

He visited the campus the next day. After talking with both his parents when he returned to Purcellville, Bowman orally committed two days later to the first and only school to offer him.

“South Carolina is one the best programs out there, and their facilities are out of this world,” Bowman said. “The coaches were great, I loved them and it was like one big family. They definitely know what they’re doing there.”

The 6-foot, 200-pounder won’t don the jersey for another year, and he has his mind set on a deep playoff run with his teammates.

“This season I want to keep growing and keep my velocity up,” Bowman said. “I want to take it game by game and see a big improvement. We are off to a great start, and it couldn’t be going any better.”

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Tariq Lee · May 1

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