How PB&J sandwiches helped Alabama softball land its home run and RBI leader. And she's a freshman

Brett Greenberg
The Tuscaloosa News

Most high-profile recruits take coaching, program status and education into their decision for signing with a school, but for Alabama softball freshman Bailey Dowling it was simple as sliced bread.

Coming off the program's first national championship in 2012, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy brought his team to Iowa to compete in a tournament where Dowling, then a fourth-grader, watched All-America pitcher Jackie Traina make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the entire team.

Seeing the Crimson Tide was exciting for the young Dowling. 

"There was a stairway where we could see the players between games," said Dowling. "Seeing the team leader making sandwiches for the entire team showed me the type of program Alabama is and made me want to be here. My dad explained what a team player was, and I knew it was an environment I wanted to surround myself around."

Alabama shortstop Bailey Dowling snags a grounder and throws to first for an out as the Tide plays Kent State in Rhoads Stadium Friday, March 5, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

The No. 2-ranked player in the Extra Inning Elite 100 for the class of 2020 was a two-time Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year and three-time MaxPreps All-American. She was able to introduce herself to Traina in a preseason Zoom call when the former star pitcher spoke to the team.

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"I was just in plain awe," Dowling said. "I've always watched and kept up with (Traina) even though I'm not a pitcher. It was the coolest thing ever. In the end, I was able to tell Jackie (Traina) the story, so the connection we have is great."

Dowling has started every game at second base or shortstop and leads the team in home runs (5) and RBIs (24) but says she has yet to make PB&Js for the team. 

"The craziest thing is that I am not even a huge peanut butter fan," said Dowling. "I am a big strawberry jelly girl though."

The young Dowling told her parents on the car ride home that day that she wanted to play at Alabama. Some years later, Murphy received a phone call about a prospect in high school, who happened to be Dowling.

Murphy credits Traina for getting the highly-touted recruit to Alabama.

Dowling went 4-for-12 with five RBIs and two home runs against Auburn last weekend. She hit the go-ahead, three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning on Sunday. 

"Right before I stepped into the box I looked to our dugout and saw coach Murphy and Bailey (Hemphill) smiling and cheering me on," said Dowling. "I smiled back at them and knew something good was going to happen."

Bailey Dowling high fives Kat Grill after Dowling scored as the Tide plays the University of Northern Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021, in Rhoads Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

What's next

Alabama hosts Tennessee this weekend in a three-game series. Friday and Sunday’s games will be televised on ESPNU, while Saturday will be streamed on SEC Network+.