Dallas Center-Grimes alum, Paige Lowary returned to her home field in Dallas Center on June 27 for a recognition night. Lowary signed autographs for her young fans and threw out the first pitch of the first game; Lowary’s high school catcher, Paige Shanno even caught the first pitch.

“You know, having so many memories in college, I kind of forget what it was like to come back to high school,” said Lowary, “hearing that National Anthem, it has always been my favorite, it just sounds really cool. When I listened to the National Anthem i was like, ‘whoa’, I’m about to throw a game here again, it was fun. I love coming back and I’m really glad I got to do this tonight.”

The recognition night was to honor Lowary and her accomplishments on the softball team at the University of Oklahoma.

The Sooners won the NCAA Womens’ College World Series (WCWS) just three weeks ago. Lowary earned her 11th save of the year when she pitched the sixth and seventh innings of the Championship game against Florida. In those last two innings, she pitched three strikeouts and threw a batter out at first for the final out of the game.

“Being a National Champion is a surreal feeling, it hasn’t really set in,” Lowary said. “Doing all these cool things are kind of making it real for me. In high school winning a State Championship was my goal, so winning a National Championship in college is kind of the same feeling for me as winning a State Championship and I think it really prepared me for it. I love big moments, it’s super fun for me, so I can’t believe it.”

Lowary transferred from Missouri to Oklahoma as a junior for the 2016-2017 school year. At OU she appeared in 43 games and started 16 times. In 2017 she led the Sooners in opponents’ average, saves and relief appearance (27).

Lowary currently holds the school’s record of career saves, holds the Big 12’s single-season saves record and leads the nation in saves with a total of 11.

“I really enjoyed being a closer, its new for me,” Lowary said. “I’m used to starting but I think I’ve really excelled in a closing role and I really enjoyed it. It was a good feeling knowing I’m trusted in big situations. I kind of took that personally, in a good way, I just thrived in the big situations.”

She is ranked sixth in Sooner history in opponent average with .163 and is ninth in WHIP with an 0.80. Lowary also finished the 2017 season 11th in hits per seven innings pitched with a 4.01 and is 34th in ERA.

In her ten postseason appearances (36.1 IP), Lowary posted a 0.77 ERA, as well as a 0.88 ERA with three saves during her five appearances at the WCWS.

During the WCWS Championship Series, Lowary set a career high in IP with 10.1 innings and struck out seven batters, allowing just two runs in Game One against Florida.

On May 21, as the relief pitcher during the Norman Regional game against Tulsa, she pitched 8.1 innings to get the victory. Earlier in May, Lowary threw 4.1 IP with just one walk and three strikeouts to get the win. Combined, Lowary and Nicole Mendes had a no hitter against Oklahoma State.

In her career, so far, Lowary has earned many awards. In 2017 she has been named to the 2017 WCWS All-Tournament Team, 2017 All-Big 12 First Team honoree, Big 12 Pitcher of the Week (4/11/17). At Missouri, she was a two-time SEC Pitcher of the Week (March 14-20, 2016 and Feb. 16-22, 2015) and SEC Co-Freshman of the Week (April 20-26, 2015), 2015 Freshman All-SEC, 2014-15 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll, member of 2016 USA Softball Women’s Elite Team, 2015 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team and 2015 USA Softball Women’s Elite Team.

Looking into the near future, as well as after her college career, Lowary has big goals for herself.

“I still feel like I haven’t reached my potential, if we can win a National Championship when half of us don’t feel like we’ve done our best yet, I’m excited for the years to come,” Lowary said. “I really hope we can win a championship next year, I don’t want to bank on it, but we’ll work toward it. I have Olympic goals too, I want to be on the USA team in 2020. so I’m going to keep working for that. Back in 2008, the last time it was in the Olympics, it was my dream back then, so when it got taken out, I was a little bummed. I’m super happy it’s coming back, that means my goal is still alive, and I’m going to keep working for it.”