As a freshman pitcher in 2010, Kenzie Fowler led the Arizona Wildcats to the Women’s College World Series for the 22nd time in program history. Despite being just a first-year hurler, Fowler led the WCWS field with 36.2 innings pitched and 49 strikeouts. Ten years removed from the first and only WCWS appearance of her career, Fowler shares some of her memories of Oklahoma City.
On the feeling of qualifying for the WCWS… “I was so young that, for a lot of that postseason run, I was just kind of numb. You know, you’re in shock because you’ve been dreaming of that moment for your entire childhood. In the second game [of the Super Regional], we really opened it up, so you could kind-of feel it as the game was going on, but when that last out is made and the PA announcer announces that you’re going to the Women’s College World Series, the fans are on their feet, and you realize that it’s your last home game, but the season’s not over. So it’s just this flood of emotions that you’re so happy and you’re about to embark on something that you’ve dreamed of since you were ten.”
On her emotions when she stepped into the OKC pitching circle for the first time… “”I was always the poker-faced athlete; I never showed a lot of emotion. If I did show emotion, it took a lot for me to get there, just because I really needed to be a kind-of zen person to keep my heart rate low. It was very easy for me to get ‘out of my body,’ if that makes sense. So I was always very stoic, but my first game at the World Series did not go as planned, so that was probably a nightmare, and I kind-of let my emotions get the best of me after that game one. Having to rally through the loser’s bracket is when that poker face and the stoicness about me really paid off, because we had to climb through so much adversity.”
On reaching the WCWS as a freshman… “It was surreal. Knowing that as a freshman that we could do it for our upperclassmen, for our seniors. And as a freshman at Arizona, it’s almost this daunting thing because there’s such tradition. It’s a program where it’s expected that you are going to play in the Women’s College World Series. You’re walking in as a freshman and thinking, ‘Okay, I can’t let my team down.’ Getting there as a youngster, it’s really this fulfilling feeling of ‘I’m worthy, I did it. And too, I’m upholding this legacy for my coach and for my teammates.'”
On her favorite WCWS memory… “Probably after we beat Tennessee twice, and after you take that in that you’ve just won four games in two days, in an elimination bracket, against the best competition. We had to beat Danielle Lawrie as a senior – don’t know how we did it – and then beat the team twice in the same day who were the ones that sent us to the loser’s bracket. Taking it in, that ‘oh my gosh, we’re going to the championship’… I think that rush of emotions is irreplaceable.”
On her funniest WCWS memory… “I remember being in the dugout one time – and I did not like to look into the stands; I was a very stay-on-the-field type of player – but I remember my eyes drifted one time and I looked up to the stands, and I saw members of my family like I had never seen them before. Hats on backwards, visors upside down, sunglasses upside down, shirts inside out, homemade signs, my sister had pom poms. And I just started laughing because, oh, of course it’s the World Series that bring out this side of people. I just looked up and I was like ‘I have never even seen you act this way.'”
On what she would like to have a redo button for… “I wish I would have taken in the fans a little bit more. Because you’re in the moment and you’re so focused on your play, on executing and doing what you need to do on the field. Especially for me, I felt like I could have soaked in the fans and the young girls more than I did. Of course, you give the autographs after the game and the lines are so long, but my head-space was always what the next game was going to be and what the last game had just been. So if I had to redo it, I would have absorbed that just a little bit more.”