Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Ligonier Valley’s Neve Dowden

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Monday, April 22, 2024 | 11:07 AM


Ligonier Valley’s softball team made the WPIAL playoffs in each of senior Neve Dowden’s three previous seasons, reaching the quarterfinals last year and the semifinals three years ago.

This year looks to be no different as the Rams outscored opponents 29-3 in their first five contests.

Therefore, Dowden is approaching her senior season with a level of optimism.

“From my past years, I’ve grown and gained confidence with high school softball,” Dowden said. “I’ve learned to always put your best effort in and have fun.”

Dowden, who’s a first baseman, provides a legitimate threat in the middle of the lineup.

Her approach at the plate is straightforward.

“I go wherever in the lineup that coach (Mark) Zimmerman thinks that I could benefit the team best at,” Dowden said. “Being in the middle, I always want a solid base hit every time. My approach at the plate is always aggressive, and I’m always ready to swing at the first pitch.”

In the midst of a five-game stretch of section games, Dowden explained what Ligonier Valley needs to do to continue its success for the rest of the season.

“For us, I think we just have to keep the bats going all the time. Our defense is strong, and we knock most balls down,” Dowden said. “We have the commitment and drive to win, and we will put in the effort to try to win even in the last inning.”

Dowden is planning on attending St. Francis (Pa.), majoring in early education and becoming a first grade teacher in the future.

This week, Dowden took some time for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:

How did you get started with softball?

I grew up playing baseball in my yard with my brother, Grant. Since I am the only daughter, I always played with my brothers and their friends. I wanted to get good so I could be able to play with them. My dad started teaching me how to play so I could play with my brother. Once I was in kindergarten, that’s when I started playing softball. Ever since, I’ve fallen in love with the game.

What are your goals for the rest of your senior season?

I plan to continue watching how many times I strike out. During winter ball season, our two scrimmages and first two games, I didn’t strike out once. Sadly, the streak broke our first home game. Other than softball, I plan to continue the rest of my senior year making memories and having fun.

What’s your mentor approach to some of the younger girls on the team?

I’m always looking out for them. I’ve developed friendships with them, and we all support and lift each other up. One person I know that can always lift me up is (freshman) Bella Dolton. When I get in my head, she’s always there to make me forget how I’m feeling and will make me laugh. I’m always wishing the best for them and giving some tips to help them improve every now and then. They are my second family for sure, and I will continue to support them even after I graduate.

Is there a current D-I college softball player or Major League Baseball player that you enjoy watching?

I love to watch McKenna Gibson. She’s the first baseman for the University of Tennessee. She’s an incredible player and someone to look up to as an athlete. Not only that, but she’s always there to have a good time and win.

What’s one thing that people may not know about you?

People don’t really know how my mother is my best friend. She’s my biggest supporter and has always been there for me. She’s done whatever is necessary for me, no matter the cost. Plus, we can always share a hard laugh to the point we can’t breathe.

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