Fowler Ball:Junior Gabby Fowler is dominating the competition, one hit at a time


Junior Gabby Fowler prepares to swing her bat. Fowler set a school record of 15 home runs hit this past year.

Andie Harmon and Gabe Fryling

As Gabby Fowler walks up to the plate, there’s only her and the ball. The ball is the only thing standing in her way from failure or success. But she can’t just make contact with the ball; she has to make the right contact. She walks up, steps her feet into the dirty square box and twists the bat in her hands. She gets set, takes a deep breath, looks at the one thing standing in her way and prepares to swing.

It’s a scene the NHS junior has repeated over and over again this year. Fowler has enjoyed one of her most successful seasons yet, hitting home runs at a record pace and helping post a personal batting average over .350. A softball player from a young age, Fowler has spent a large portion of her life on the field while off the field, Fowler committed to play collegiately at East Carolina University in the fall of last year. She has played the sport at a high level for most of her athletic career, developing a cold-blooded, calm demeanor every time she steps foot on the field. Though behind this is her nerves, the high expectations Fowler sets for herself as she entered high school softball.

“Being on varsity as a freshman was kind of nerve racking when I first came in. I was playing against seniors who were much older than me and more advanced than I was,” Fowler said. “It was scary knowing that I was sort of at the bottom, but I eventually worked my way up the ladder.”

 These older teammates became mentors for Fowler as she progressed through high school, helping her develop into the player she is today.  But Fowler has also developed a close relationship with many of the girls that have become current teammates such as junior Claire Cullen. Cullen has watched Fowler bloom athletically and has seen what Fowler can bring to any team.

“I’ve known Gabby since I was six years old, when we started playing rec ball which led to travel,” Cullen said. “She is one of the best teammates you could ask for. She’s a huge leader on the team and always hypes us up. Gabby is very outspoken and will always pick you up after a bad outing.”

Yet Fowler’s value to the team is clear not only by her teammates, but her coaches too. The team’s head coach James Bullard expressed how Gabby adds more to the team than just her playing ability.

“Individually she brings an incredible amount to our team.  Gabby’s actions and intense play style makes everyone want to achieve more,” Bullard said. “She is supportive to her teammates, respectful to her opponents and a fierce competitor.  She brings a tremendous amount of success to our program, as well as an incredible humbleness.”

Bullard believes the key to improving in any task is discipline and never becoming complacent, which is a trait he values in the way Fowler trains. He labels her work ethic as one of her best traits as both an athlete and as a person.

“Gabby’s work ethic is second to none.  She is always working on her craft,” Bullard said. “Whether it be in off season practices or weights or getting in extra reps at home and with specialized hitting and fielding instructors. Gabby is always trying to be better than she was.”

Fowler says what makes being an athlete so hard isn’t the laps you run in the off-season or the late night games. Instead, Fowler says the most difficult part is its rigorous schedule, as her teams often play three to four games per week. This can be challenging for players to handle, and it requires them to stay disciplined and have a positive attitude, which Fowler says this is how she gets through the long days full of school and softball.

 “It’s very draining. Games back to back are very tiring, but win or lose you just have to forget about it and move on because you have another game the next day,” Fowler said. “It takes a lot of mental strength to get through each game because if you had a bad game the night before, you have to flush it and focus on the next game.”

Because of Fowler’s on-field success, her expectations have soared, however she doubts her ability to hold herself to these high standards every game. But Fowler knows that her teammates have her back, win or lose.

“It takes a lot off my shoulders knowing I can trust myself to do my own thing and knowing that I have teammates to back me up when I’m not doing well,” Fowler said. “But I know it also helps my teammates and takes some weight off their shoulders when I do well and this allows them to do their best as well. All of us working together just makes it work.”

Though softball is a team sport, individual recruiting occurs very often as it does in almost any sport. Fowler was a focus of college recruiters last fall, but the process  helped her find the college of her future.

“I had attended camps in the years before, and both the school (East Carolina) showed interest, but [we] weren’t allowed to talk until September 1st. But at a previous camp, a coach had told me to stay up that night and once it hit midnight, I got a call and we had a nice talk about starting to plan a visit,” Fowler said. “I went on my visit a few weeks later, and ever since then, I knew it was the place for me. It was like home for me.”

Fowler eventually committed to East Carolina University in September of last year. This decision brought relief for Fowler, and she was able to find a home after high school where she can continue to play the sport she loves.

“Since committing, it’s been a huge weight off my shoulders knowing I don’t have to play with the idea that I’m being recruited,” Fowler said. “I play more freely and just express myself how I want to on the field. Being committed just helped me play with that mentality that I don’t have to play with any fear.”

Like many athletes, Fowler has her own set of Superstitions. Though this superstition is not before the game or from the night prior, it takes place right as she steps up to the plate.

“I know that when I get into the batter’s box, it’s the same routine every time. I twist my bat in my hands and look at it. I always try to catch the ball on the label on the bat every time because that’s a signal for me that I’m gonna have a good at bat.”

As the sectionals and elimination games loom around the corner for the Millers, expectations are starting to build in the mind of any player. No athlete wants to be the reason for their team’s season to be over, but Fowler knows that whatever happens on the Millers’ schedule will be more than the reading of the final scoreboard.

“As long as we go out there and play our own softball, we’ll be fine,” Fowler said. “As long as we play together as a team, I’m not worried about how we’ll do.”