FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: Blue Devils' senior pitcher Ross Fowler reflects on final high school baseball season

Blue Devils' senior pitcher Ross Fowler (3) on the mound in the first inning of the home contest against Lincolnton on March 12, 2020. (O-N-E file photo by Marcus Smith)Blue Devils' senior Ross Fowler (3) trying to get it going in the batter's box in the first inning of the match-up against Lincolnton on Thursday, March 12. (O-N-E file photo by Marcus Smith)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

It's tough to surmise what will officially become of the 2020 spring sports' season, but all one can do is hope, especially the senior athletes.

For Maiden senior Ross Fowler, he is hopeful that his high school baseball career isn't over before his farewell season even really began.

Fowler – a 6'1” right-handed pitcher and infielder for the Blue Devils – entered his final season a few weeks ago and unbeknownst to him, it could really be finished early.

If it were to be his last, he went out on a high note in a battle of the unbeatens against South Fork 2A Conference foe Lincolnton at home on March 12.

In this match-up with the Wolves, Fowler appeared on the mound for the second time this season and had an impressive outing as he aided in the 10-0 shutout as his squad improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference.

He was the lone wolf at pitcher for Maiden, going through five innings, and picking up his second win on the year (2-0 on the mound). Fowler struck out 11 batters while allowing only two hits. He also finished the contest with no errors, so it was almost a perfect game.

Fowler said that the Blue Devils' hot start this season has a lot to do with the tight bonds each teammate has made with one another and the combined effort to win. He said that the team has improved mentally throughout these last few years to get them to where they are.

“Given that I may have played my last game as a Maiden Blue Devil due to COVID-19, it gives me time to reflect,” said Fowler. “I see this as a learning opportunity as well as a way to really enjoy the journey and little things that life gives you. My mindset is to just stay ready and hope there's an opportunity to be back on the field one last time with my guys.

“I believe that this (pandemic) should be a learning opportunity for everyone. Not just regarding baseball but regarding everyone's everyday lives. The biggest lesson is to not take the things we have for granted.”

Fowler also mentioned what 1st year Blue Devils' head coach Dustin Hull taught him this season:

“The biggest thing Coach Hull taught me this season was patience,” he said. “Coming off of an elbow surgery and not wanting to miss a second of my senior year, coach really stressed the importance of taking things slow and being smart. This, I believe, helped a lot in the process of coming back and being fully prepared to take on this season.”

Fowler has spent the last three seasons on varsity – playing in 38 career games while obtaining seven hits, nine RBIs and two runs. He is also 8-7 in 23 appearances on the mound with 10 starts (45 2/3 innings pitched). Over the course of his career, he has earned one shutout and one save while allowing 44 hits and 19 earned runs (2.91 ERA).

However, his baseball journey began as a little kid in tee-ball at just 5 or 6-years-old.

“What really got me to love the game was always my parents and my brother,” he said. “I always aspired to be like my big brother and when I was a young boy watching him play the game I loved, it drove me to be the best I could. To make my family proud is the biggest motivator in my mind.”

Fowler continues to strive to make his family proud day in and day out, especially with his mindset to improve his game every day.

“I believe what I have most improved on is changing tempos and controlling the game from the mound,” he said. “When you have control and can keep the batter off-balance every pitch, it can significantly make a difference in the pace of the game, as well as how the batter reacts.”

Fowler too looks ahead at what he needs to improve for his freshman season with Catawba College in 2021:

“As I head into my freshman year at Catawba College, I believe that the best thing I can improve in is the control of all my pitches,” he said. “To perfect my game and learn a few new pitches to consistently throw for strikes can give me a better edge on batters. The easiest part of pitching to me is the ability to handle the pressure and be able to throw strikes consistently and efficiently throughout the game.”

As far as the 2020 high school spring sports' season, Fowler and the rest of the senior athletes will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.