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AJ’s Rowell to play at Montreat

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Three-sport standout joins Lady Cavaliers softball team

By Robert Howey

KERSHAW – When Andrew Jackson High School softball standout Lauren Rowell recently visited Montreat College in Montreat, N.C., she had a strong inkling she would be returning.
“I had a great visit there,” Rowell said. “I love the campus and I had a chance to practice with the softball team. When I did, they welcomed me and it seemed they wanted me to be a part of their team.”
Rowell, a three-sport performer at AJ, made it official Thursday, Nov. 21, when she signed to play softball with the Montreat College Cavaliers in the Lancaster County Class AA school’s media center.
“This has been a goal for me since I was 8 years old,” Rowell said. “The campus is pretty and it’s not too far from home. It’s the place for me and I’m looking forward to going there.”
AJ softball coach Steve Middleton said Rowell and her family made a host of visits before settling on the Appalachian Athletic Conference NAIA school located in the western North Carolina mountains.
“Give the Rowells credit because they did their homework and visited a number of schools,” Middleton said. “I think when she found the right one for her, she was ready to sign. I’m happy for Lauren because she has worked hard in her high school career.
“When she’s not playing sports, she’s an outstanding member of our school’s show choir and performs well,” he said. “She’s well-rounded and I think it will help Lauren make a smooth transition into college life.”
Rowell, who will be in her fourth season of softball this spring, is coming off a solid junior campaign. She posted a 10-2 mark as a pitcher with 36 strikeouts, eight walks and an earned run average of 2.51 last spring. She batted .246 last season with 10 RBIs.
Rowell will be in her third season of basketball and just completed her third season with the Lady Vols’ volleyball team. The three-time all-region pick played a key role in the 20-4 AJ volleyball team winning its third region title, the Class AA Upper State crown and finishing as state runner-up this fall.
“Lauren is a clutch player,” Middleton said. “When she pitches, she is always around the plate. I feel she will be a double asset at Montreat because she can pitch and play multiple positions and, if they need it, she can sing the national anthem.”
Montreat coach Heather Maston said Rowell will be groomed as a pitcher.
“I love her movement on the ball and she can change speeds well,” Maston said. “She will be an asset to the team.
“Knowing that Lauren plays three sports and also sings in the school show choir shows me she is a hard worker and has a strong work ethic,” Maston said.
AJ athletic director Jimbo Barton said Rowell has a bright future.
“I feel she will do well at Montreat and I wish her the best,” Barton said. “She’s ready to go to the next level. Lauren has been a major plus at Andrew Jackson.”

Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157