Kit Fowler: JUCO walk on signs to play Div. I baseball

JUCO walk on signs to play Div. I baseball

Kit Fowler

Photo by Submitted

Kit Fowler

Kit Fowler of Marco Island strikes out the last batter to save the win against Mid-Florida in the JUCO Fall Classic All Star Game at the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. Fowler has signed with Tennessee Tech, a Division I school, to pitch in the 2014-2015 season.

Photo by submitted

Kit Fowler of Marco Island strikes out the last batter to save the win against Mid-Florida in the JUCO Fall Classic All Star Game at the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. Fowler has signed with Tennessee Tech, a Division I school, to pitch in the 2014-2015 season.

Marco Island’s Kit Fowler was dumbfounded when he did not receive a single baseball scholarship in 2012.

That’s over now. He feels much more wanted after signing with Division I Tennessee Tech before Christmas.

He had passed up being the starting quarterback for the Lely Trojans his senior year to concentrate on his pitching to lure college scouts.

Among his wins, he silenced the potent Barron Collier bats as Lely gained a major win over the Cougars. His arm took his team to its first district playoffs in 15 years.

He won all the postseason accolades, then threw two perfect innings in the Bartley’s Baseball Senior All-Star Game that June.

But offers didn’t come.

As the summer waned Fowler decided to walk on at St. Petersburg (Fla.) College.

It was a team coming off a three-year probation for what new coach Ryan Beckman called, “previous coaches indiscretions.” During those years it could only have 12 scholarship players on the team, reduced from 18.

“My assistant coach (T.J. Large) was the first to see him as we were looking for two more arms and a third that would be redshirted,” Beckman said of Fowler.

“He kept raving about him (Fowler) and so did Kit’s travel ball coach (Joe Cali).”

Beckman said he relied on his coaches to develop Kit and “they did a great job. Kit is one of those guys with a baseball commitment. We decided to see what this diamond in the rough was able to do.”

It has been a long time, 2005, since the Titans had been a contender in the Sun Coast Conference. The team with potential was 24-30 overall and contending for the championship until it slipped late in the season to finish fourth last spring.

Fowler started out in the bullpen and finished as a starting pitcher. He and teammates Nick McNeil, Eric Schindler, Robbie Coursel, Jacob Lopez and Kyle Schindler were selected to play in the Florida JUCO Fall Classic All Star Game, which was held at the Detroit Tigers winter home in Lakeland on Oct. 27. It was the first time for any St. Petersburg player to be chosen since, 2007.

Fowler pitched the last inning, striking out the final batter to secure the win for the Sun Coast Conference team, beating Mid-Florida 9-3.

Earlier, on Sept. 21, Fowler pitched against the Orioles Rookie team at the Orioles Stadium in Sarasota. His fastball hit the 90 mph mark on the radar gun while winning the game.

Beckman said Fowler’s improvement in velocity and overall pitching quality comes from hard work.

“Kit did a lot on his own,” Beckman said. “He bought into our throwing program, our shoulder program. He is being rewarded for his hard work.”

Beckman said that is why Tennessee Tech has rewarded him with a scholarship to begin pitching for them in the 2014-2015 season. Fowler is thrilled with his decision as Tech has a strong baseball program, winning their conference three of its past five years.

“It is a great opportunity,” Fowler said. “On my visit I met the coaching staff and Coach (Matt) Braga told me I could be one of their top starters. Tennessee Tech runs with all the big teams. They are ranked 36th in the nation in preseason.”

But, there is still this spring.

In fall ball, games didn’t count on anyone’s record. It was more to prepare for the spring. Fowler didn’t get as many reps and usually pitched just two or three innings each outing. He concentrated on his mechanics.

“The fall was awesome, I am much better than last year.” Fowler said. “The coaches are very excited about what our team can do.”

Beckman knows that State College of Florida remains the team to beat, but said St. Petersburg, Hillsboro and Polk State College will be in the mix this spring.

“I feel positive about our team in the Sun Coast Conference,” Beckman said. “We have a solid offense, our question is the bullpen. We’ll be in it at the finish.”

No, Fowler and Beckman don’t have any thoughts about Fowler going back into the bullpen. It might just be that some other teenager looking for a chance to be seen will be very happy with that route to make it to Division I.

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