Heather Bowlin is one of three pitchers on the Utah softball team.
March 26, 2003
By: Sam Johnston, Specialty Reporting Class
Few athletes in any sport will face the grueling grind on a body as a softball pitcher endures. The Ute pitching staff plays in pain. With bruised shins, torn off toe nails, and shoulder muscles knotted up, Jen Purcell, Heather Bowlin, and Briann Gourdin endure pain and discomfort each time they take the field to pitch.
In a season that lasts more than 40 games, the health of the Ute pitchers is a top priority. Purcell admits, "I've been prone to injury. I need to be in better shape." Purcell played much of the 2002 season with torn cartilage in her knee that required off-season surgery. Heather Bowlin also needed shoulder surgery during the off-season to be healthy for her junior year.
This year's season started off just as last year ended --- with a bruise. Following a season opening tournament in Arizona, Purcell's injuries included a shin bruise from a ground ball, a thigh bruise from the constant slap of the hand against the thigh from the wind up and blister on her fingers from pitching multiple games.
The knots that develop in the muscles of the pitchers cannot only be felt but seen in the shoulders, arms and backs of the pitching staff. On the inside of the elbow and along the inside of the shoulder blade are two areas that need to be rubbed out after every game. There are times though, when being rubbed down isn't possible.
Bowlin says "There are days when you just don't recuperate from the previous day's game. You just have to pitch again and hope your body works out the knots." Since the underhand pitch of softball is a more natural movement then the over hand pitch used in baseball, pitchers in softball can pitch multiple games when a pitcher in baseball can only pitch once every 3-4 days. Despite the natural movement of the wind-up, injuries do occur.
So, without a time to rest, Bowlin, Purcell and Gourdin don't have time to think about those bruises, knots, and scrapes. That's because there is usually a new game the next day.