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Ella McDowell has mindset to ‘be the best’ for Arkansas softball
Ella McDowell is looking forward to her future in the SEC with the Razorbacks. (Credit: University of Arkansas Athletics/Ella McDowell)

Ella McDowell has mindset to ‘be the best’ for Arkansas softball

FOSTER, Texas (BVM) — There are high school softball teams nationwide with plenty of talented players on their rosters, but the Foster Falcons have arguably the best player in the Class of 2024: Ella McDowell.

McDowell has suited up for the Falcons since she was a freshman, and her hard work was finally recognized when top collegiate softball programs reached out in hopes of gaining another talented player.

“My recruiting process started Sept. 1, and I had all the midnight calls, and I was up to 3 a.m. calling people,” McDowell said. “That was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”

One of the calls McDowell received was from the University of Arkansas, and that same morning she was on her way to visit the campus. 

“When the sunrise hit, I was on a plane for my first visit to Fayetteville,” McDowell said. “I took visits to Arkansas, Arizona, Tennessee and Oklahoma State. They’re all such beautiful campuses and great programs led by great coaches, but Arkansas is just home for me. I can’t explain it. I start smiling every time I talk about it.”

McDowell still has another year before she reaches Fayetteville and will have unlimited potential to succeed there, but she will also have the opportunity to show the nation her willingness to compete, which she learned while playing baseball. 

“I tried a lot of sports growing up, and I eventually fell in love with baseball as a kid,” McDowell said. “I got into baseball, and whenever I was told I couldn’t play with the boys anymore, I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I’ll try it with the girls,’ and I fell in love with softball.”

McDowell’s talents on the softball field led her to join the Impact Gold program, and there, she played for coaches Carla Newsom, Kelly Bembry and KC Jackson, who helped her learn the value of hard work. 

“Thankfully, with Impact Gold, we’ve played against some of the best competition in the country,” McDowell said. “Playing at Alliance tournaments or anywhere in Texas because there was always great competition here. Impact Gold is full of a lot of great coaches that have helped develop me into the player I am today.”

While McDowell’s travel ball program has helped her immensely, she has accomplished much in her prep career too, beginning in her freshman season when she carried a .541 batting average, hit 17 home runs and had 61 RBIs. 

She followed up with a successful sophomore season, receiving first-team All-Greater Houston honors, and continued her dominant stretch as a junior, batting .678, hitting 12 home runs and having 59 RBIs, according to MaxPreps. However, Foster’s season ended at the hands of Santa Fe High School on May 13, but she finds herself more motivated than ever and credits former four-time All-American Raven Chavanne for helping her along the way.

“I started watching softball and watching others and my favorite player was Raven Chavanne,” McDowell said. “I saw how much of a leader she was, and I wanted to be great like her. To be a great teammate as well, that’s something that kept me going and helps me want to be the best.”

McDowell also received the District 20-5A MVP for the third consecutive year and was recognized as the No. 7 player in the Class of 2024 by MaxPreps heading into the season, but those rankings don’t play too much into how McDowell views herself as a player. 

“Any ranking is cool,” McDowell said. “But at the end of the day, if I’m doing everything I can for myself and for my team, the rankings aren’t going to matter because I want to win, and if I’m playing to the best of my ability, then that’s all that matters. A ranking at the end of the day is just going to make my grandparents proud.”

It’s evident that McDowell has her sights set on continuing to win at Foster, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t already feeling the excitement of becoming a Razorback and playing for head softball coach Courtney Deifel in the SEC.

“I think it goes for all sports when I say that the best play in the SEC,” McDowell said. “Those are your hard-nosed, bulldog mentality type of kids that care and are coming from everywhere to play in the SEC … Coach Deifel makes you feel at home, and it’s just like a big family there, and I think she’s a great leader and I’d run through a brick wall for that woman.”

While McDowell intends on playing for Deifel and Arkansas, she also has the goal of helping the Razorbacks reach their first-ever Women’s College World Series (WCWS).

“If it was possible to help lead Arkansas to the WCWS, that would mean the world to me,” McDowell said. “We [Arkansas] haven’t had the most prominent success in the past like some other programs have, but coach Deifel has turned everything around, and the ceiling is high for the program.”

While a new legacy awaits McDowell in Fayetteville, she has one prep season to complete and will do her best to capitalize on it, but she will also continue to be grateful that she found a sport that has remained at the forefront of her life.

“Cliche or not, softball means the world to me,” McDowell said. “It’s my first thought when I wake up, when I go to bed and I just love the grind and love this sport and everything about it. I see myself being in the sport for a long time, and it genuinely shaped me into the person I am today. I can’t imagine my life without it.”