Recent graduate Evan Howard, who played his prep baseball career at Thomson High School, has accepted a baseball scholarship from Savannah State University.
The 18-year-old Howard, son of Bob and Trina Howard of Thomson, says the idea of playing baseball in college is like a dream come true.
"This is something I've always wanted to do ever since me and my Dad began throwing the baseball back and forth to each other when I was a little boy," said Howard. "It's always been my dream to play college baseball."
Howard will now get his chance, provided everything goes as planned. Savannah State University Head Coach Carlton Hardy plans to use Howard as a pitcher. Already, Coach Carlton has informed Howard that he has an opportunity of making the starting pitcher rotation as a freshman.
Howard's former high school coach, Terry Holder, said he was happy for Howard.
"I'm very glad to see that he is going to be continuing his education and getting a chance to play college baseball, too," said Coach Holder, who coached Howard his junior and senior years. "Seeing kids' dreams of playing on the next level come true means a lot. I'm proud for him and wish him the best."
Howard joins another recent graduate of Thomson High School to accept a college baseball scholarship. Anthony "Pooh" Erwin, who was the starting center fielder for the Bulldogs, will be playing next season at USC-Aiken, where Coach Holder's younger son, Michael, is an assistant coach.
The thought of playing college baseball next season brings a big smile to Howard's face.
"I'm really happy about getting the chance to play and who knows, maybe make the starting pitching rotation," Howard said.
During his senior season, Howard didn't pitch. Instead, he was anchored to the left field starting position. He finished the season with a solid .350 batting average. He drove in a number of runs, hit eight doubles, one triple and one homerun.
In his junior season, Howard was the Bulldogs' ace pitcher, finishing with a record of 7-4. He believes the best two pitches in his arsenal are his fastball and curve ball.
"I thank the Lord Jesus, first, for giving me the ability to play baseball," Howard said. He's always got a plan for your life. You just have to stick it out with Him and He'll come through."
Howard also thanks his family for being so supportive of him through the years that he has played baseball.
"My Mom and Dad have always supported me in baseball or whatever else I had my mind set on," Howard said. "They've watched a ton of baseball games."
In college, Howard plans on majoring in physical education, hoping to become a P.E. teacher and possibly head baseball coach at his alma mater someday.
One of his greatest personal feats on the baseball field at Thomson High School came this past season when the Bulldogs defeated the visiting Harlem High School Bulldogs.
It marked the first time that Howard and other senior teammates had ever beaten Harlem on the diamond. Howard said he heard that the only other time a Thomson team had beaten Harlem was back in 1996.
"That was the best win we ever had in my four years of high school baseball," Howard said. "It was great to beat Harlem at home."
Right now, Howard is playing some sandlot baseball with the Winfield Tigers, who are coached by Lenny Springs - a former star baseball player under Coach Holder at Evans High School.
In a recent start as pitcher for the Tigers, Howard had a sensational outing on the mound. He went the distance in the seven inning game against the New Ellington Rams, who defeated the Tigers 3-1.
Despite the loss, Howard struck out eight batters, walked two and allowed the Rams just five hits.
"I was very surprised at my performance, seeing as how I hadn't pitched in a long time," Howard said. "I guess it was because my arm was so fresh."
Howard plans to continue to play with the Tigers for the remainder of the season. He will start college Aug. 9.