TUCSON, Ariz., June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- In its third decade of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in partnership with RISE Magazine, today announced junior pitcher Kenzie Fowler of Canyon del Oro High School (Oro Valley, Ariz.) as its 2007-08 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. Fowler becomes just the 10th high school junior to win Gatorade National Player of the Year honors (of 196 honorees) in any sport. The award, which recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Fowler as the nation's best high school softball player. A national advisory board comprised of sportswriters and sport- specific experts from around the country helped select Fowler from the more than 373,000 high school softball players nationwide. Fowler is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July. The 6-foot junior pitcher, who overcame life-threatening surgery and spent eight days in intensive care battling the effects of a grave vascular condition last spring, finished 24-1 with a 0.28 ERA, recording 309 strikeouts in 148.2 innings this season to lead the Dorados (33-4) to the Class 4A, Division 1 state championship. She fired four no-hitters as well as a perfect game en route to hurling 12 shutouts. Also the Southern Arizona Player of the Year as named by the Tucson Citizen and an All-Arizona First Team selection as named by the Arizona Republic, Fowler's fastball has touched 71 mph, the same speed as University of Arizona legend and Olympic Gold Medalist Jennie Finch peaked as a collegian. A two-time Gatorade Arizona Softball Player of the Year, Fowler also produced a .448 batting average, 33 RBI, 14 runs scored and five home runs this spring. A roster member of the 2007 USA Softball Junior National Team and an EA Sports All-American, Fowler struck out 12 and allowed just two hits in Canyon del Oro's 3-2 state title victory against Saguaro in 2008, which clinched the program's second straight championship. As a sophomore, she finished 28-1 with a 0.16 ERA for the state champion Dorados, recording 376 strikeouts, four no-hitters and two perfect games. No slouch at the plate, Fowler hit .393 with seven home runs, 27 RBI and a .663 slugging percentage in 2007. Fowler has maintained a 3.39 GPA in the classroom. In addition to participating in Canyon del Oro's Link Crew peer mentoring program, she volunteers in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center in Tucson, where she herself was treated, and reads to elementary school students as part of a literacy-outreach program. Fowler also donates her time by creating video highlight packages for her teammates, as well as coaching area youth softball players. "I haven't known an athlete as good as her," said Dave Thatcher, athletic director at Canyon del Oro High. "We did have Bre Ladd (the 2001-02 Gatorade National Girls Volleyball Player of the Year), but there aren't enough words for me to appropriately describe Kenzie. In the bigger picture, she's always worried about everyone else on the team. She knows the kids backing her up are her key." Fowler has verbally committed to a softball scholarship to the University of Arizona for the fall of 2009. "Without question, Kenzie is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school softball player based on her statistics on the field and the impact her play had on Canyon del Oro's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jeff Urban. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. She represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient." The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by RISE Magazine, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include: * Softball gold medalist Cat Osterman * WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie * NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith * 2007 Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning * Reigning 200-meter world champion Allyson Felix * Beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information and lists of past winners and future announcement dates, visit gatorade.com/playeroftheyear.
ALL-TIME GATORADE NATIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONOREES Year Name High School Status 2007-08 Kenzie Fowler Canyon del Oro/ High School Oro Valley, AZ Junior 2006-07 Ashley Brignac John Curtis Christian School/River Ridge, LA Univ. of Louisiana - Lafayette 2005-06 Kirsten Shortridge Keller/Keller, TX Baylor University 2004-05 Dani Hofer Palm Harbor Univ./ LSU Palm Harbor, FL 2003-04 Anjelica Selden Vanden/Fairfield, CA UCLA 2002-03 Lisa Dodd University City/San UCLA Diego, CA 2001-02 Alicia Hollowell Fairfield/Fairfield, CA Univ. of Arizona Grad U.S. National Team 2000-01 Cat Osterman Cypress Falls/Houston, TX Rockford Thunder / U.S. National Team 1999-00 Tia Bollinger Mater Dei/Santa Ana, CA Univ. of Washington Graduate 1998-99 Maureen LeCocq Chaminade Prep/West Stanford Hills, CA Univ. Graduate 1997-98 Amanda Freed Pacifica/Garden Grove, CA Rockford Thunder / U.S. National Team
SOURCE The Gatorade Company