Westmoreland Alumni Q&A with Callie Sowers

The former Hempfield Area hurler is currently the top pitcher in the PSAC

Wed Mar 20, 2024 - 1:46PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Hempfield Area's Callie Sowers has an 8-1 record with a sterling 0.48 ERA in 58 innings with Bloomsburg this season.Hempfield Area's Callie Sowers has an 8-1 record with a sterling 0.48 ERA in 58 innings with Bloomsburg this season.

Last Updated: Wed Mar 20, 2024 - 1:53PM

For more than a decade, Hempfield Area has been the standard-bearer for softball success. The Spartans have captured numerous WPIAL and state titles, but they have also produced some of the top pitchers in the WPIAL during that time. Among that group of talented hurlers is Callie Sowers, who has now emerged as a dominant pitcher collegiately at Bloomsburg University. Sowers is in the spotlight for this edition of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.

In her freshman season at Hempfield Area, Sowers played a reserve role behind ace Maddie Uschock. That year, the Spartans went 24-3 overall, including a 9-1 mark in section play. In the WPIAL playoffs, the Spartans defeated Canon-McMillan and Norwin to reach the title game, and then outlasted rival Greater Latrobe 2-1 in extra innings to capture the WPIAL Class 6A Championship. In the state playoffs, Hempfield Area ousted Warwick, Baldwin, and Nazareth to reach the championship. The Spartans edged Parkland 4-3 to win the PIAA crown, as well.

In Sowers sophomore year, she emerged as the top option in the circle, and helped the Spartans go 18-7, including 10-4 in the section. In the Class 6A playoffs, Hempfield Area knocked off Baldwin and Seneca Valley and then overwhelmed top-seeded North Allegheny 15-0 in four innings to capture its fifth-consecutive WPIAL title. In that contest against the Tigers, Sowers threw an abbreviated no-hitter. In the PIAA postseason, the Spartans bested Chambersburg and McDowell, but fell to Central Dauphin in the semifinals to conclude the season.

Poised to challenge for a sixth district title in a row in 2020, the Spartans never received the opportunity, as the season was cancelled as a result of COVID.

Back to play in Sowers’ senior campaign in 2021, the Spartans went 12-6, including 6-4 in section action. However, the Spartans’ season ended earlier than usual in the postseason, with a loss to Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals.

Following her graduation, Sowers opted to continue her career on the diamond at Bloomsburg University. She joined the Huskies for the 2022 campaign, and made an immediate impact in the circle. She appeared in 35 contests, including 27 starts, and compiled a record of 18-9 with one save. Additionally, she registered an ERA of 3.63 with 185 strikeouts over 183.1 innings. For her efforts, Sowers was honored as a First-Team All-PSAC East performer. Bloomsburg went 28-20 that season, including 10-6 in the PSAC East. The Huskies qualified for the PSAC Tournament, opening with a win against Seton Hill. After a loss to Kutztown, the Huskies rebounded with victories against Shippensburg and Shepherd before falling to Mercyhurst in the semifinals. Subsequently, Bloomsburg qualified for the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional, but lost to Shippensburg and Claflin to end the season.

Last season, Sowers amassed a mark of 17-16 with one save, along with an ERA of 3.66 and 259 punchouts in 209 innings of work. She was a Second-Team All-PSAC selection. The Huskies went 25-33 overall, including 15-17 in the conference. In the PSAC Tournament, Bloomsburg commenced with victories against California University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, and Kutztown. After a loss to Shippensburg, the Huskies responded with a triumph against Mercyhurst, but again fell to the Raiders in the championship game.

This season, Sowers has ascended to the top pitcher in the conference. In 10 appearances, including eight starts, she’s gone 8-1 with an ERA of 0.48 and 60 strikeouts in 58 innings. To this point, the Huskies have registered a record of 10-6, and will open PSAC play this weekend.

Callie set aside time from her schedule to answer questions about her stellar start to the season, her decision to attend Bloomsburg, and the best qualities of her legendary high school coach, Bob Kalp.

Q: You have been nearly unhittable to start this season. What have been the reasons for your incredible success this year?

A: I have been focusing on improving my pitches during the offseason, as well as adding a few new ones. Mentally, I've been really locked in, staying focused on each pitch and not getting ahead of myself. I have really worked on my confidence, as well as trusting my preparation and defense. Also, having a supportive team and coaching staff has been crucial in my success.

Q: What pitches do you throw, and which do you consider your "out pitch"?

A: I throw a fastball, changeup, screw, curve, rise, and off-speed curve. I throw all my pitches at all locations - in, out, low, and high. My favorite pitch is my screwball - I like to throw it high, and call it a "scrise", which is probably my out pitch. However, I have grown to really like throwing my curve on both sides of the plate, as well as my off-speed.

Q: How have you grown as a player during your time at Bloomsburg?

A: I have grown a ton as a player and person at Bloomsburg. The challenges I've faced on the field have not only made me a better player, but a stronger, more resilient person. As a team captain, I've learned the true meaning of leadership and the importance of lifting others up. Bloomsburg isn't just a place where I've played softball; it's where I've grown into the person I am today, surrounded by teammates who have become like family.

Q: What team and individual goals did you establish for this season?

A: As a team, our main goal this season is to win PSACs after falling short last year in the championship. We did not graduate any seniors last year and added some great freshmen to the roster. And after that, we want to make a long run. We've also set goals to improve our team culture, which has been going amazing. Individually, I've set goals to continue my strong work ethic and keep confidence in the circle. I want to pitch ahead in counts and let my pitches spin. I want to do all I can to help the team win. I have also made a goal to support my teammates in any way I can.

Q: There are a couple of other Westmoreland County players on the roster, Emma Little and Josie Straigis. Did you have a relationship with either of them prior to college?

A: Yes. Emma Little and I played travel softball on Team Pennsylvania together since our sophomore year of high school. It has been awesome to go into college with her being my catcher because of the battery connection we have already created. Emma has been a best friend of mine for years and we are now college roommates. It has been very fun to be able to play with Emma and watch her succeed. I surprisingly did not know Josie Straigis. We have had this conversation a few times about how close we live to each other but never met. I think because my junior year of high school softball was canceled due to COVID-19 and I was hurt my senior year when we played Latrobe, we never got to face each other. Josie is a great player and teammate and will no doubt have an exciting career at Bloomsburg

Q: What led to your decision to attend Bloomsburg?

A: I chose to attend Bloomsburg because I absolutely loved the coaches. Susan is an amazing coach and she immediately made me feel welcome. She was a pitcher, and that for me felt like a bonus because she sees the game through the eyes of a pitcher. She has been able to help me build off my skills coming into college, as well as add new pitches into my repertoire. She has helped a ton with my mental game, as well. When I initially committed, I never got to see the campus because it was the middle of the COVID lockdown and everything was closed. My Dad and I drove up one day and we got to walk around outside of all the buildings. I loved the campus, however, I never got to actually go inside a building until my first day of freshman year. It all worked out though, and I would not change a thing! I also was interested in majoring in business and Bloomsburg's Ziegler College of Business has a great reputation.

Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?

A: My major is international business with a focus in information technology, and I am minoring in supply chain management. My dream is to be a top manager in business, leading teams, driving innovation, and creating a workplace where everyone thrives. I also love to travel, so a role allowing that would be ideal.

Q: What has been your most enjoyable college course?

A: My most enjoyable college course has been some of my IT classes. We focused on coding. It was challenging but rewarding! I also enjoyed Global Marketing. It has been interesting to learn about diverse global trends and exploring new cultures.

Q: You were part of a dynasty at Hempfield Area under coach Bob Kalp. What were his best qualities?

A: Coach Bob Kalp was more than a coach to me; he was a mentor and a guide who shaped not just my athletic abilities, but also my character. He always believed in me, even when no one else did. His best qualities were his unwavering belief in his players, his ability to push us to our limits, and his genuine care for each member of the team. Coach Kalp was also incredibly smart, with a deep understanding of the game that allowed him to build strategies that consistently put us in a position to win. Coach Kalp taught me the value of hard work, discipline, and teamwork - lessons that have stayed with me long after my time at Hempfield Area.

Q: What is your fondest high-school memory?

A: My fondest high school memory will always be winning the WPIAL in 2019 against North Allegheny. I threw a no-hitter! My team and I also hit really well that game and the bus ride home was fun.

Q: Do you still follow the Spartans or WPIAL softball?

A: I do still follow the Spartans and WPIAL softball. It has been exciting to watch Hempfield softball and Coach Tina continue the tradition of winning.

Q: Do you prefer water, a sports drink, or something else for softball?

A: I usually prefer water and sometimes a BODYARMOR. I do like my pregame Starbucks though!

Q: Who is your celebrity dream date?

A: If I could meet a celebrity, it would definitely be Michael Jackson... if time travel becomes an option! I listen to his music before every game!

Q: What is your favorite vacation spot, or a place you've always wanted to go?

A: My favorite vacation spot is anywhere warm with palm trees. However, I have always wanted to visit Italy and Greece.