ST. JOSEPH (WCIA) — Bailey Dowling is back where it all started but for the first time in her career, the former St. Joseph-Ogden standout is trying to get back on the field.
Dowling tore her ACL and MCL while covering first base on a bunt play in a game against Tennessee March 20, the first major injury of her career.
“I heard my knee cap pop so at that moment,” says Dowling. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m fine it was just my knee cap, we’ll pop it back in, no big deal.’ And then I rolled over it and I don’t remember much after that because I blacked out.”
Her season was over just like that. She had surgery April 1, ending what was an outstanding first year in college. The three-time WCIA Player of the Year was tearing it up with the Tide, starting every game playing both shortstop and second base. And after leaving high school as Illinois’ all-time leader in home runs with 65, Dowling continued to rake in Tuscaloosa, hitting .306 with six home runs and 25 RBI.
“It was amazing, everything and more that I could have expected,” says Dowling. “I found myself before practice, just sitting on the bench just soaking it all in.”
Dowling rehabs her knee multiple times per week, she’s just starting work on the field, but should be fully recovered in time for next season. Watching her team make a run to the Women’s College World Series gave her a whole new perspective, something Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said could be beneficial earlier this spring.
“She’ll be great at that role, she’ll see it from a different side and learn a lot about her teammates and she’ll see things that she’s never seen before in a game,” says Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy.
“I’m always the type of person that everything happens for a reason so having that new outlook,” says Dowling. “I feel like it just gave me more of a leadership role that I can bring to the team next year and the years following, so I’m excited.”
And if she picks up where she left off, Dowling is well on her way to an outstanding college career.