Softball senior Fowler takes medical redshirt

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Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat Freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler launches a pitch in Arizona?s 5-0 victory over No. 5 Missouri on Sunday at Hillenbrand Stadium. While Fowler has shown dominance early in the season, she will also need support from the defense behind her.

After missing 20 games Arizona softball senior pitcher Kenzie Fowler decided to red shirt this season, the UA announced Thursday.

The All-American will play her final season next year after not recovering quickly enough from a microscopic lumbar discectomy for a herniated disc on her back in October.

“After meeting with Coach Candrea, I decided it was in my best interest and in the best interest of the program for me to redshirt this season,” said Fowler in a press release.

Head coach Mike Candrea said he is looking forward to Fowler’s senior year, not only pitching but batting. Her first three seasons, Fowler just pitched.

“Truthfully, for her senior year, I want her to be heathy and doing the things that she’s capable of doing and I think that she can help this team not just on the mound but offensively,” Candrea said.

Arizona’s pitching staff has had mixed results this season, feasting on unranked teams but having trouble with highly regarded foes. Going into Thursday night’s game, junior Shelby Babcock (8-2) had a 2.21 ERA, freshman Nancy Bowling (2-1) had a 3.68 ERA and junior Estela Piñon (5-2) had a 3.38 ERA.

In November Fowler said that she always had a “little bit of back issues,” but it didn’t really affect her until January 2012.

“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.”

Her ERA last year was a career-high 2.85 and she had a 15-9 record. 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.

Last semester Candrea said it was a quality of life issue and is glad she is doing well now.

“It’s absolutely nice to see her back and healthy and happy,” Candrea said. “Going into this, we never put a timeline on her return because from that surgery you don’t know, everyone’s a little bit different, but the one thing I do know is that we definitely didn’t want to rush her.”

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.

Fowler has struck out 794 career batters in her career, already sixth-most in UA history and pitched 652.1 innings, ninth-most in Arizona history.

Candrea didn’t think Fowler could have pushed it and come back for late in the Pac-12 season.

“I think we’ve done what’s best for her and what’s best for us,” Candrea said. “We’ll look forward to having her.”

Next season Arizona will have five pitchers, after using two last year.

Evan Rosenfeld contributed to this report


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