If you ask Blue Springs South High School graduate Bailey Fowler, the moments she had at Northeast Oklahoma A&M College were some of the best she’s ever had.

That includes her time with the Lady Norse softball team.

“Overall, it was a great experience,” Fowler said of the school in Miami, Oklahoma. “I had some of the best years of my life there.”

She committed to NEO during a breakout season for South in which she hit .439 with 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 41 runs and a 1.421 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) in 2016. She was a first-team all-state selection and The Examiner Player of the Year that season.

While her power numbers from her senior campaign didn’t carry over to NEO, she still had two exceptional seasons.

Now, she’s going to take the next step in her collegiate career. On July 3, she announced via Twitter that she will play her final two years at the University of Central Missouri.

It was an easy decision for Fowler, who also received interest from Central Oklahoma, North Kentucky and a pair of Division II schools in Texas. She’s really close with her family, and playing for UCM gives them a chance to see her play somewhere close to home.

“I am very close with my family,” Fowler said. “I have grandparents that supported me since I started playing. We grew up in a small town of Unionville, which is about three hours from here. When I played in Oklahoma, it was a six-hour drive for them to come watch me play.

“My family didn’t get to make to my games as much as they wanted to. They are super excited that they will get to come to many more games now that I am closer.”

She hit .390 with four home runs, 42 RBIs, 30 runs, and an .887 OPS last season. During her freshman season, she hit .429 with two home runs, 28 RBIs, 56 runs and a 1.065 OPS.

“I was happy with the seasons I had,” she said. “I didn’t hit the home runs that I did at South. I still had quite a few RBIs, though. It was nice to get some clutch hits.”

She said it was harder to hit home runs at the junior college level with the wide disparity of velocity between pitchers she faced.

“There was sometimes where you saw pitching that wasn’t great and other times when you saw good pitching,” Fowler said. “Sometimes you’d faced a pitcher throwing in the 60s and other times they were throwing in the 70s. It’s harder to get power on the lower-velocity pitchers.”

Fowler even served as a starting pitcher as a sophomore. She tossed 181 1/3 innings and had a 2.74 ERA and 86 strikeouts. She didn’t pitch for Blue Springs South or during her freshman season at NEO. She did, however, pitch for her club team during her high school years.

“We already had the pitchers at South, so I didn’t really need to,” Fowler said. “This year, they said they needed me to pitch, and I said, ‘OK.’ I ended up having a pretty good year pitching, too.

“After not pitching consistently for a few years, I was a little nervous,” she added. “I had to build my arm strength back up and get some of my movement pitches back. But I ended up having pretty good success with it.”

At UCM, Fowler said she likely won’t pitch, but will do what she does best – hit and play in the infield. Her goals with the Jennies is to keep improving and help her team reach the Division II Women’s College World Series.

“I want to keep doing what I am doing,” Fowler said. “I have worked hard for it. I am glad I get to play for another two years at a great school.”