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Sunday, December 21, 2014 | Last updated: 7:25am

Arizona softball's Fowler expected to return next month from back surgery



Arizona softball senior pitcher Kenzie Fowler is expected to finish her impressive but injury-plagued career next semester, following a microscopic lumbar discectomy for a herniated disc on her back in Los Angeles in October.

Fowler missed the fall practices and scrimmages but she and head coach Mike Candrea expect her to be back next month for the start of the regular season. Candrea said that many pitchers come in with aches and pain, but Fowler’s back injury was worse than usual.

“[The surgery] was needed for me to live my daily life to its fullest and be able to do things I wanted to do without being in pain,” Fowler said.

After exhausting other options, she decided to get the surgery.

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By Gordon Bates / Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Softball vs San Diego State University

“I wouldn’t want to be on my feet a long time, just little things like sleeping, how I get up in the morning,” Fowler said. “It [the pain] was something that I could deal with a little bit, but when it came time, it was too much and I knew that it was going to go away.”

Fowler, a Tucson native and Canyon del Oro High School graduate, started going to rehabilitation twice a week in early November to prepare for the season.

“We’re excited to see where she’s at when she gets back in January and when she can start throwing,” Candrea said.

“I’ve always had a little bit of back issues, being a tall person I guess, but it didn’t really affect me until January of last year,” Fowler added.

In her sophomore year, Fowler was second-team NFCA All-American, Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention and USA Softball player of the year finalist.

Her freshman year, she was first-team NFCA All-American and a USA Softball player of the year finalist and was named to the All-Women’s College World Series list. She led the Wildcats to the championship series against UCLA, Arizona’s fifth national runner-up finish.

Although her ERA last year was a career-high 2.85, Fowler held a 15-9 record, despite dealing with multiple injuries. Fowler does not attribute her junior season slump to her injuries, however.

“You don’t want to ever say an injury’s affecting you,” Fowler said. “Everybody has injuries. When game time comes, you just turn it off and so it didn’t really affect me.”

In 2010, Fowler’s record was 35-9 and her ERA was 1.63, while her sophomore year she was 26-9 and had a 1.87 ERA.

“It’s hopefully something we can look forward to, that she’s finally pain-free,” Candrea said.

Fowler has had more than her fair share of injuries, including a serious health scare in high school. In 2007, Fowler needed three surgeries to fix blood clotting in her throwing arm and she nearly died.

“You can’t avoid it, it is what it is and I do think that a lot of the things I have gone through personally have made me stronger as a person,” Fowler said. “Definitely my high school surgery helped define who I am as a woman and a softball player.

“If you look back and try to find the good out of it, it makes you more motivated. It’s definitely not fun, but you have to just take the best you can out of it.”


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