The name Evan Howard is fast-becoming known on the campus of Toccoa Falls College in North Georgia. And there's a pretty good reason why. For the 19-year-old former Thomson High School baseball star just completed his first year at the next level of baseball as an All-Conference NAIA-NCCAA starting pitcher.
Son of Bob Howard and Trina Howard, both of Thomson, the younger Howard, soon will be returning to college as a sophomore and the hopes of an even better season than he had as a freshman.
"It's great to be playing college baseball," said Howard during an interview last Saturday. "That's all I ever thought about my senior year was playing baseball at the next level. I'm just so glad that I got the opportunity to do that."
At Thomson High School, Howard played under Head Coach Terry Holder and was the starting left fielder his senior year. Howard also was a starting pitcher his junior and sophomore seasons. During his senior season, he didn't pitch at all - playing left field nearly exclusively.
Despite his absence on the mound during his senior season, Howard was most impressive as an outfielder, making a number of outstanding defensive plays. He also was one of the most consistent hitters on the team, too.
He later earned an offer to play college baseball at Savannah State College - an offer he first accepted before changing his mind and deciding, instead, to play for the TFC Eagles.
At TFC, Howard worked 32 1/3 innings this past season, while finishing with a 4-0 record as a right-hander. He struck out 23 batters, walked 9 and allowed 27 hits - one of which was a homerun. He finished with a ERA of 2.93.
"I thought I had a great season as a pitcher in college baseball," said Howard, who also worked in three relief pitching performances. "I didn't have any idea that I'd pitch as well as I did."
Howard said it felt "great" being named to the All-Conference Team as a pitcher. "I never thought anything like that would happen."
The Eagles finished the season with an overall record of 25-24. They were knocked out of the conference tournament in the third round. During tournament play, Howard was 1-0, having pitched the entire nine-inning game against Clearwater Christian College in a 9-4 win by the Eagles.
Howard has aspirations of someday playing Major League Baseball.
"I'd love to get the opportunity to play professionally one day," said Howard, the Eagles' starting right fielder when he's not pitching. "That's my dream. That's always been my ultimate dream. Ever since I can remember, playing professional baseball is something I've always wanted to do."
Howard readily admitted that if such doesn't happen, he plans to pursue a career in the medical field.
"I'd like to become a radiologist at one of the Augusta hospitals, if getting a chance to play pro baseball doesn't happen," said Howard.
He believes that the Eagles will have a much better season his sophomore year.
"We're going to have a good team," said Howard. "We've got a lot of returning players and some good prospects that will be joining the team - so I look for us to be much better."