Freshman pitcher Nancy Bowling missed Arizona's opening weekend of games after suffering a concussion on Feb. 2.


Two days after being hit with a line drive near her left eye - with a seam imprint to prove it - and being released by the hospital, presumably fine, Nancy Bowling sat in a Feb. 4 study hall.

"My teammates said I started to act funny," she said. "I couldn't stay awake. I had a really bad headache."

The pitcher had a concussion.

The prize of the Arizona Wildcats' recruiting class had to sit out the season-opening Kajikawa Classic, watching the UA go 3-2.

After passing her final concussion test Wednesday, the freshman pitcher debuts today, when the Wildcats play a home doubleheader in the three-day, six-team Hillenbrand Invitational.

"I've always wanted to be here," Bowling said. "I feel great."

Here's what she brings to the Wildcats:

An attitude. "She's a bulldog," pitching coach Alicia Hollowell said. "She has that intangible."

Mike Candrea used the same descriptor.

"A bulldog," he said. "She likes to compete. The biggest thing about her is going to be to get her not to overthink too much.

"But you don't know how kids are going to react until you put them under fire. She's got the mind-set that it takes."

It's second nature.

"It's how I was taught to pitch, being mentally tough," she said.

An arm. "We knew watching her, before she got here, that she was a workhorse," Hollowell said.

Bowling, who throws six pitches but relies on a strong riseball, went 25-3 as a senior at Royal High School in Simi Valley, Calif., striking out 246 with a 0.43 ERA.

ESPN ranked her the nation's seventh-best recruit.

"She definitely is a player we expect a lot out of this year," Candrea said.

"We're going to have to slowly get her back into things."

• A bat. Bowling will likely hit on days she pitches, or even as the designated player on days she doesn't.

Candrea hasn't used that weapon in years; Taryne Mowatt batted in 37 games as the No. 2 starter in 2006.

"She swings the bat well in BP," Candrea said, "but you have to see what she looks like in games."

Inside pitch

• Kenzie Fowler, recovering from back surgery, threw from the circle Wednesday but is still weeks away from a return to games.

• Chelsea Goodacre will catch today after being forced to serve as the designated player last week with a sore throwing elbow.


• What: Hillenbrand Invitational

• Where: Hillenbrand Stadium

• Arizona's schedule today: 4 p.m. vs. Nebraska, 6 p.m. vs. Drake

Contact reporter Patrick Finley at or 573-4145. On Twitter: @PatrickFinley