There are good athletes, and then there are dominant athletes. Lambert High School’s Kassie Howard, the Forsyth County Softball Player of the Year and Berry College commit, falls in the latter category.
With staggering numbers from both the rubber and at the plate, Howard has made a name for herself as one of the more well-rounded softball players in Georgia — leading the Lady Longhorns to a 30-5 regular season record in 2013 and a Region 6-AAAAAA championship.
"We had a great season overall," Howard said. "Being player of the year for our county makes it all feel worth it."
Howard improved consistently since joining the Longhorn, and cites her work ethic as the biggest factor in her ascension. Her efforts were not lost on Lambert’s head coach, Dana Corr, who is quick to praise her former pupil.
"She works harder than anyone and deserves everything she’s gotten," Corr said. "She’s put in so much effort these last four years. We’re so proud of Kassie, and this award tops it all off."
Howard, while valuable in many facets of the game, believes her greatest value lies in her pitching, and the statistics back up that sentiment.
In 2013 she posted a 23-4 record, including 186 strikeouts — a school record — and a miniscule 1.31 earned run average in 138 2/3 total innings. Additionally, she finished the campaign with 18 complete games and six shutouts.
This success in the circle earned her region pitcher of the year honors — yet another award to add to the résumé.
"Her pitching was such a big part of our success," said Corr. "She was dominant on so many different nights when we needed her to be. You really can’t ask for more out of a pitcher than what she gave us."
The Lady Longhorns fell short of expectations this year, bowing out in the second round of the state playoffs. But with an impressive record and a region championship, 2013 will go down as a productive season for Lambert.
While it may not have been a perfect end to Howard’s career, it was certainly a memorable one.
"We did really well," she said. "We bonded a lot as a team and that helped us on and off the field. We worked well together and communicated well together and that definitely showed."
Howard’s pitching may be her biggest strength, but she is no slouch with the bat. Her .477 average was one of the best in the county, and her eight doubles were near the top in that category, as well.
As a dual threat, there was little doubt among coaches over who was the Forsyth’s best player this season.
"It was a unanimous decision," Corr said. "Kassie was clearly the best out there, and there was no disputing that."
Now that her high school career is in the books, Howard has begun to look ahead to her next challenge at Berry College, where she will join a school that finished 2013 with a 29-11 record — good for first in the Southern Athletic Association. Berry Head coach Cori Thiermann was dubbed SAA Coach of the Year, and five of her players were named to the All-Conference First Team.
While many high school seniors express concern and anxiety over taking the next step into college competition — a reputable squad like Berry — Howard remains unfazed by the tests that lie ahead, claiming she’s not nervous and "just excited to back out there and play."
"She’s going to be a tremendous asset to that program," Corr said. "She’s going to go in there and she’s going to do amazing. When you have a great attitude like she does, success is bound to happen. She’s the kind of person who is never satisfied, who keeps pushing herself.
"She got better every year with us, and will keep getting better."