Three seniors are leaving three-time softball champs, but the talent continues
Ink is a funny thing. It rubs off easily, leaving its color on whatever it touches. That tint, good or bad, is sometimes hard to remove.
For the Canyon Del Oro softball team, 2009 newsprint was overwhelmingly good, as the Dorados cruised to a third straight state title behind the stellar play of two standout seniors, Kenzie Fowler and Katie Asher.
For the past two seasons, these two athletes and statistical titans were a magnet for CDO state titles.
The University of Arizona-bound Fowler, on the basis of her all-around excellence in every aspect of the game, was named the 2008 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. Asher bashed a home run in the 2008 state title game, and finished that season with a .476 batting average and 14 total home runs.
This season saw more of the same.
Heading into this season's playoffs, Fowler threw three straight no-hitters. In the Dorados' 4-0 state championship victory over Cienega at UA's Hillenbrand Stadium on May 16, she finished her high school career by allowing only one hit to the Bobcats and ending the season with a .048 ERA.
Asher, who is headed to Oklahoma State University next season, was no less prolific, hitting nine home runs, many times providing CDO with the necessary offensive boost in critical moments during the Dorados' 30-2 campaign.
"We're really lucky to have three seniors that have all been stars all four years," said CDO head coach Amy Swiderski earlier this season. "Not only as athletes, they all have really strong character and they're doing a great job of leading."
That kind of character, leadership and dominance has allowed the Dorados to command the respect and awe of 4A for nearly half a decade. But now what?
Here's where the ink's impression comes in.
While the media were (rightfully) quick to pinpoint future collegians Fowler and Asher due to gaudy statistics and electric field presence, lost in the shuffle is a young CDO team that has no plans to give up the ghost in 2010.
Well, co-captains Fowler, Asher and Lindsey Weldon are the only seniors listed on the 2009 roster. In fact, aside from the inevitable addition of skilled freshmen, the Dorados' roster for next season reads as follows: two seniors, six juniors and two sophomores. The cupboard is not exactly bare.
"We have a very strong sophomore class who we look to to get on base each inning," said Swiderski in March. "If we get on base each inning, we're pretty successful."
That class of now-juniors, including Kayla Henry, Courtney Sollevold and Mattie Fowler (among others), and joined by seniors Adriana Privitera and Janelle Christman, was an integral part of CDO's championship run this year.
Something else that played a bigger role, according to Asher, was the team's "great chemistry."
"We have sleepovers and dinners," said an excited Asher before the playoffs.
If team chemistry was a deciding factor in asserting the Dorados' pre-eminence in Arizona during 2009, then the next statement from coach Swiderski might give opponents even more to think about in 2010.
"Our team chemistry gets better and better every year," said Swiderski with a smile.
Arizona softballers, you are now warned.