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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Fowler shows hitting promise

Freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler has debuted another weapon of late — and it’s not a new pitch to her selection.

Head coach Mike Candrea has thrown Fowler’s bat into the mix recently, shaking up Arizona’s batting order.

She’s been dominating in the circle with a 21-2 record and 192 strikeouts to begin her freshman campaign, but adding her bat has given Candrea another option to his already-deep lineup. 

The numbers she is putting up already have her being mentioned among Wildcat greats like Taryne Mowatt, Alicia Hollowell and the face of Arizona softball — Jennie Finch.

The comparisons to Finch have been there since before Fowler even stepped into Hillenbrand Stadium. With her ability to switch between a pitcher’s mindset and a hitter’s perspective, Fowler had many doing double-takes when they looked at the stat sheet.

In high school, Fowler’s performances were good enough to make her a dual threat. At Canyon Del Oro High School, Fowler claimed the record for career hits, home runs in a game and RBIs in a single season.

As a Wildcat, Fowler has given Arizona a true ace in all senses of the word. She’s also brought the most consistent pitching presence in the batters’ box since Finch left in 2002.

“”You just have to switch your focus,”” Fowler said. “”Once I’m in the dugout I’m a hitter, and once I’m done I’m a pitcher. You have to stay real focused but I love it.””

She’s hit in five of the last seven Arizona games and has proven that she can contribute from the plate. A grand slam in Game 3 of the Wildcats’ series at ASU gave Fowler her second home run in as many series.

“”I think inserting Kenzie into the lineup today was a nice little boost,”” Candrea said after Game 3 of the series at ASU. “”You have to be careful. There’s been staffs that I’ve had that I was three deep with pitchers so you can put a Finch out there every day and not worry about it.””

In the nine games she’s hit in this season, Fowler has a .381 batting average. She has eight hits, six RBIs and a .714 slugging percentage.

Not bad for a batter that is just starting to see some time at the plate.

While her ability to contribute on the offensive side of the ball is impressive, Candrea has expressed concern that Fowler’s vulnerability might be taken advantage of.

“”But when you’re relying on one kid you’ve got to pick and choose it because the last thing you want is for her to get hurt running the bases or for someone possibly taking a shot at her,”” Candrea said.

While his concerns are only for the benefit of Arizona’s situation in the circle, Fowler’s offensive numbers are becoming something that can’t be ignored. Candrea has said that he won’t use Fowler as an everyday hitter, but Fowler has the potential to be like Washington’s Danielle Lawrie and UTEP’s Stacie Townsend, both of whom play offense and defense.

The boost that Fowler brings on the defensive side of the ball could transition to the other side of the plate and give Candrea an option to fill the few remaining holes in the bottom half of Arizona’s lineup.

For now, however, Candrea said he will continue to use Fowler’s bat as an always-available wildcard.

“”I will kind of pick and choose when I use her,”” Candrea said. “”The nice thing … was that they had not seen her. It’s kind of the unknown.””

— Nicole Dimtsios is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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