CLUTE — Brazoswood senior Bella Owens wanted to stay close to home in her search for the perfect college.

Navarro College ended up being the perfect match.

Owens recently signed her national letter of intent to continue her softball career at the National Junior College Athletic Association school.

“The big factor for me was choosing a college close to home since I’m so close with my family, and my grandma is a huge supporter of mine,” Owens said. “It’s just the perfect distance for being able to travel back home in my free time. Navarro isn’t too far. It’s not too close, so it was perfect.”

Navarro is a two-year college, which gives Owens the option to continue her softball career somewhere else after two years or settle down and transfer to a Houston-area school to finish her degree and focus on a future job, she said.

“And Navarro just felt like the perfect fit, amazing coaches and future teammates,” she said.

The Corsicana-based school is about three to four hours from home. Another school Owens was in contact with was Blinn College in nearby Brenham, but Navarro won her heart.

“I had a good relationship with (Blinn College) coach (Rick) Church,” she said. “I also did a couple of hitting camps with him and talked after a few games. He was very respectful when he heard about my commitment and also emailed me congratulating saying, ‘‘Congrats on your commitment to Navarro! I’ve known (Navarro College) Coach K (Jessica Karenke-Burke) for a long time. Best of luck and have a great senior year!’”

The Lady Bulldogs were 22-21 overall last season and 13-11 in the Region XIV Athletic Conference under head coach Jessica Karenke-Burke, who has been with the program for 22 seasons, including 21 as head coach. She has led the program to six Region XIV Conference Championships and 14 postseason tournament appearances.

While at Navarro, Owens will pitch and play infield when needed.

“But mainly, I will be used for my power at the plate,” she said. “What caught their eye was the first game they watched me. In my first at-bat, I hit a home run over the left-field fence.”

The Brazoswood senior will be studying education.

Owens made 15 appearances last season, finishing with a 5.80 ERA. She pitched 50 and 2/3 innings, allowing 73 hits, 51 runs, 42 earned, striking out 31 and walking 15. She batted with a .317 average, 19 hits in 67 plate appearances, 16 RBIs and four home runs.

“My high school softball career means a lot to me,” Owens said. “It is the thing that has taught me to fight for a position and that nothing will ever be given to you easily. And most importantly, Lady Buc softball has taught me to be proud of my teammates’ accomplishments, which for the past years we’ve called ‘mudita’ — the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.

“I will forever cherish Lady Buc softball and the whole experience.”

Jake Dowling is a sports writer for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0161 or at jake.dowling@thefacts.com

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