Though Canyon Del Oro pitcher Kenzie Fowler’s mug has yet to appear on sports drink bottles, she’s basking in national limelight after accepting the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award.
Fowler is the first-ever junior to win the honor, presented during a ceremony of friends, family and administrators at the school, last Wednesday.
“I had no idea softball could even take me this far,” Fowler said. “I played basketball and swam, I danced and played volleyball … Softball is just the sport I always gravitated back to.”
After last summer’s life-threatening blood clot surgeries, Fowler led CDO to a consecutive 4A state title, with her 24-1 record and 0.28 ERA. She logged 309 strikeouts and four no-hitters during a season that netted her second-straight Gatorade Arizona Softball Player of the Year nod.
CDO coach Amy Swiderski — who sat on knowledge of the impending award for a week — wasn’t surprised that Fowler was chosen from 373,000 players nationwide.
“Kenzie is internally grateful for everything she gets,” Swiderski said. “An award like this goes so far beyond Kenzie, she recognizes this is huge for CDO softball and for Tucson.”
The honor makes Fowler a finalist for Gatorade’s Female High School Athlete of the Year, to be presented during a July red-carpet ceremony at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.
Fowler blushed as she heard that award would place her among past winners including Olympic gold medalists Cat Osterman and Kerri Walsh, and NFL stars Emmitt Smith and Peyton Manning.
“Thank you for making a kid’s dream come true,” Fowler said, smiling ear to ear.