Citizen Staff Writer
HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
Maybe the four years Kenzie Fowler spent at Canyon del Oro High School are, to many people in Tucson, a mere prelude to her impending pitching career at the University of Arizona.
But the final chapter Fowler is writing for her storybook prep career might make whatever she does at the next level pale in comparison to what is arguably the greatest high school sports career in Tucson history.
It’s certainly the most dominant among those playing a team sport.
The reigning Gatorade national softball player of the year has thrown three straight no-hitters, including two perfect games, all against teams qualifying for the Class 4A Division I playoffs.
Saturday, she led CDO to a 10-0 win over Desert View in the first round of the 4A-I playoffs.
In addition to her pitching, she hit a first-inning home run easily clearing the center field wall (her seventh homer of the season), had a two-run single and was hit by a pitch.
Against Desert View, as she did April 30 against Marana, Fowler struck out 14 of the 15 batters she faced, as both games were called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
In the three-game streak, Fowler has struck out 43 hitters and dropped her ERA to 0.06 (one run allowed in 125 innings).
And how does Fowler feel about the recent stretch of domination?
“I have a streak?” she asked, genuinely unaware what reporters were asking her about.
When told she had just tossed her third-straight no-hitter, Fowler quickly jumped into safety mode – never saying something that would come across as arrogant or self-serving and certainly never one to offer up bulletin board material.
“Oh, yeah that’s great,” Fowler said. “You know I try to do my best and all that.”
Fowler then went on to talk about how easy it is to pitch knowing the defense behind her will “get to any ball” hit into play – even if she’s rarely giving them a chance to prove that lately – and about how emotional senior day was with her teammates.
Never once would she take the bait put in front of her to give a me-first answer, only further leading to the reason so many in Tucson seem to be pulling for her.
“Tucson is fortunate to have great softball and you’re going to come across (some great) players,” said Desert View coach Bert Otero, whose team’s season had just come to an end at the hands of Fowler. “But Kenzie Fowler is a special kid.
“It’s not all about softball. It’s about how she carries herself. It’s about being a classy young lady and that’s what you really have to appreciate.”
As much as it may seem like a distant memory now, and as much as us annoying media types repeated the story over and over, it can’t be ignored that the life-threatening medical scare forcing Fowler off the U.S. Junior Olympic team two summers ago that left her hospitalized for nearly two weeks.
After dominating the 4A-I playoffs as a sophomore in 2007 – CDO won four playoff games and a state title by outscoring opponents 14-0 with Fowler throwing every inning – seven inches of blood clots that had formed in her powerful right pitching arm had worked their way toward her heart, only being discovered after her arm began turning purple in a summer workout.
Multiple surgeries later, it appeared Fowler’s life would be saved, but her pitching career was doubtful at best.
Instead, she went on to be named the best pitcher in the country as a junior and only got more dominant as a senior, when she got to finally sign her scholarship papers to play for UA and officially become a Wildcat.
She’s pitched every playoff inning for CDO since she’s been in high school, leading the Dorados to three straight state championship games, including winning the past two titles.
She’s struck out 298 batters and walked 14 this season and has a 22-2 record with both losses coming in 1-0 games.
Her career numbers are equally hard to fathom.
In four years, Fowler has a 102-8 record with 1,403 strikeouts. She’s gone 12-1 in state playoff games with her only loss coming to Glendale Cactus in the 2006 state championship game when she was a freshman.
Cactus, coincidentally, is the team traveling to Tucson on Tuesday to face Fowler in the 4A-I quarterfinals, the final time she’ll pitch at CDO.
Should CDO win the 4 p.m. game, the 4A-I semifinals are Thursday and the state title game is Saturday.
Both games are scheduled to be played in Phoenix, but if both teams are Tucson-area teams, they could be moved to a neutral location in southern Arizona.
How cool would it be if the game was at UA’s Hillenbrand Stadium?
Fowler long ago etched her name atop the list of Tucson’s great prep softball players.
And while the argument can be made some multisport stars of yesteryear did more in multiple sports or stars who went on to storied collegiate and professional careers like Sean Elliott and Fat Lever became more well known, it’s hard to argue anyone ever dominated a team sport quite like Fowler has done.
And with one week left of her high school career, Fowler has every intention of writing the perfect ending.
Geoff Grammer’s e-mail:
Fowler dominates her sport
Kenzie’s Fowler season stats for CDO:
Earned runs: 1
> Last three games: 17 IP, 0 hits, 0 earned runs, 43 Ks, 1 walk
> Career record: 102-8
Continued from 1C
FOWLER’S FINAL ACT
Canyon del Oro High School pitcher Kenzie Fowler has saved her best for last. Her stats during her last three games:
Perfect games 2