Kenzie Fowler is pain-free and able to sleep at night now, her body feeling more normal after October back surgery.
But she's not ready for softball, yet.
The Canyon Del Oro High School star, who, as a freshman, pitched the UA to the 2010 Women's College World Series finale, said Thursday she will take a medical redshirt this season.
Fowler will play next season as a fifth-year senior.
"I'm not quite there yet," she said after the UA's 9-5 win against Boise State on Thursday at Hillenbrand Stadium. "There's in-shape and then there's game shape -and I haven't had the fall work and the early spring work."
Fowler has been hitting and throwing in the bullpen this past month, but coach Mike Candrea said she likely couldn't have returned soon from the Oct. 4 microscopic lumbar discectomy. The two discussed the redshirt last week.
"The kid has gone through so much," Candrea said. "It's nice to see her healthy, and she's in a really good place right now.
"We don't want to push the envelope. Truthfully, for her senior year, I want her to be healthy and to be able to do the things she's capable of doing.
"I think she can help this team, not just on the mound, but offensively."
As one of five pitchers next year, Fowler figures to bat.
She wasn't used as a hitter in her first three years at the UA, in which she reached the WCWS finale against UCLA in 2010 before missing weeks at a time with concussions, leg pain and numbness the past two years.
It was nine months of leg pain and numbness that caused Fowler to have the fall surgery.
"I think we've done what's best for her and what's best for us," Candrea said.
Shelby Babcock, one of the Wildcats' three remaining pitchers, struggled Thursday against the Broncos, allowing five runs, four earned, in the first three innings.
The junior threw a 15-pitch bullpen session after the third, and returned a different person.
"In the first couple innings, I saw her pressing a little bit," said catcher Chelsea Goodacre, who continued her hot streak with a home run. "She came out in the bullpen and started working it a little bit.
"She just flipped a switch, and was a totally different person coming into the fourth.
"She changed her mentality. She went out there ready to attack any batter she faced."
Candrea admitted the team had "unforced errors" that hurt Babcock early.
"Still," he said, "she's got to take a little more control of herself."
With none out, Babcock loaded the bases in the seventh, up four.
BSU's Devon Bridges lined a ball to third baseman Lauren Young, who caught it in the air and dove toward the bag, tagging the runner for a double play.
"That was a huge turn of events right there," Candrea said.
Young said she tagged the runner's thigh in time.
"We wanted to get those three outs," said Young, who hit her third home run of the season. "Any way I could help - and that helped it a lot."
The Wildcats pulled the tarp over the infield after the game, and will take today off before hosting BSU in a doubleheader starting at 5 Saturday night.
Boise St. at UA, three games
• Thursday: Arizona 9, Boise St. 5
• Saturday: 5 and 7 p.m.