CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - The Big South Conference, in conjunction with Collegiate Partner Musco Sports Lighting, continues its monthly "Musco Women's Spotlight" feature. This month's spotlight is Gardner-Webb redshirt-senior softball pitcher Cindy Boomhower (Walhalla, S.C.), who recently tossed a perfect game for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Boomhower entered this season in the top-five of GWU's Division I career record book in wins, saves, complete games, innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts, ERA and fewest walks per 7.0 innings pitched. She is also in the top-five in GWU's Division I single-season record book in saves, shutouts and fewest walks per 7.0 innings pitched.
Yet all of these accolades did not come easy for the 2011 Big South All-Tournament Team honoree and the 2011 Big South All-Conference Second-Team selection, as she has overcome tremendous hardships playing the game she loves.
After a solid freshman season in 2008, Boomhower and head coach Tom Cole looked for an even better season for the sophomore in 2009. However, after starting the season at 4-2 in the circle, Boomhower's back would not let her pitch anymore. In fact, it was tough for Boomhower to go through life as she was used to.
"Daily tasks that I took for granted and seemed so simple, I wasn't capable of doing," stated Boomhower. "Walking, tying my shoes, getting in and out of my car, and sitting for long periods of time all seemed nearly impossible. I had to depend a lot on my teammates and friends to help me with very simple things."
"Personally, I don't know any other softball player who has had two back surgeries and has decided to continue to play softball," said Coach Cole. "Her determination, resolve and competitiveness are amazing."
Determined to succeed once more in the circle on the softball diamond, Boomhower rehabbed extensively for months, going as much as three times a week for more than two hours per session throughout the next several months.
"I did rehab near my home over the summer where they help a lot of student-athletes from Clemson. We did a lot of stretches and exercises to help build my core and work on my flexibility," continued Boomhower. "I still continue to do the exercises to this day so that I don't tighten up too much and to maintain flexibility. During games people usually ask me why I'm stretching so much but it's all in hopes to maintain movement. It took trial and error with practicing and during games to learn my limits and what I was still capable of doing, but the recovery time went by smoothly with the help from the team and coaching staff."
Her work proved to be beneficial, as the righty, whose pre-game ritual consists of drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper before every game, won eight games and recorded a team-high 12 complete games in 2010, earning Big South All-Conference Second-Team honors for her efforts. Boomhower was also named the GWU Pitcher of the Year by her fellow teammates.
"Cindy has grown so much, and in so many ways, since she arrived at Gardner-Webb," continued Coach Cole. "The unfortunate thing though is that in large part she has had to grow just because of all the adversity she has had to face."
After back-to-back years in which she has posted a team-low ERA among the Runnin' Bulldog pitchers, the redshirt-senior, who graduated in December of 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education, is not only playing at a high level once more, but is a quiet leader for Coach Cole's squad this season.
"Cindy leads by example. Even now we have to be careful with what we have her do. But, Cindy is always wanting to do as much as possible," stated Coach Cole. "During games when Cindy is on the mound she is extremely calm. She's very confident, and believes that she can get the job done. Her teammates see this and feed off it. I'm extremely happy that Cindy is doing so well this year, for her and for the team."
When Boomhower is asked about the most important thing she has learned during her time at Gardner-Webb, the redshirt-senior's reply is one of wisdom beyond her years.
"Gardner Webb has taught me that I can be a Christian and still be competitive, ambitious, and determined, all by keeping the right perspective on all of these things," replied Boomhower. "Coach Cole has been the greatest example of this. He and the coaching staff are everyday reminders to our team that we too can be successful and live a life for God."
As for Boomhower's most memorable collegiate athletic experience, one would think that her perfect game this season against UNC Wilmington on March 9 would come to mind, but rather she reflects back to where it all started:
"My most memorable collegiate experience athletically was my first shutout," answered Boomhower. "It was against Mercer my freshman year, and I think it may have also been my first collegiate win."
Her first-ever career win still rings fresh in her mind, while the resolve and determination shown by Boomhower over her five-year career at GWU shines brightly for not only her teammates, but for the entire program as a whole.
"Cindy Boomhower is an outstanding young lady, and a true competitor," continued Coach Cole. "I'm sorry that she has had to go through all the health issues she has had to go through, but I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to coach her for these five years."
This season Boomhower leads the Runnin' Bulldogs with five wins on the season and has posted a team-low ERA of 1.54 on the year. The March 12 Big South Pitcher of the Week also leads the team with 39 strikeouts on the young season and has held her opponents to a team-low batting average of .193.
Written by Kevin Davis of Gardner-Webb's Athletic Communications office
READ THE PREVIOUS "MUSCO WOMEN'S SPOTLIGHTS"
Jennifer Sing, VMI
Shamia Brown, High Point
Lisa Lubke, Radford
Jennifer Klugh, Liberty
Becca Toor, Winthrop
Lauren Garza, Campbell