By John Frierson
Destin Howard admits that there were times during her high school softball career, when her abilities as a pitcher could completely overwhelm the opposing team, that she felt a little bad for the batters she was facing. It didn’t mean she took it easy on them, but she did empathize with their plight.
As the youngest of five sisters, Howard knows what it’s like to go up against superior competition.
The talented, hard-throwing right-hander was good — good enough to now be playing for the No. 16-ranked Georgia squad — and a really good pitcher in a mismatch can make very quick work of the other team. Pitching at the collegiate level, of course, is a much different challenge, but Howard, a freshman from Macon, Ga., is learning and developing. In 12.0 innings of work this season — with eight appearances and one start — she has a 2.92 ERA, a 2-0 record, and a 1.33 WHIP.
During a Quick Chat before practice Tuesday, Howard talked about her start in softball, what it feels like to dominate a game, being the youngest of five sisters, and much more. Here’s some of what she had to say:
Frierson: How did you get started in softball? Did you play a bunch of different sports when you were younger?
Howard: I think I started with tee-ball when I was young, and then I also played basketball. Those were my two sports, and I guess I loved softball more.
Frierson: What was it that separated softball for you?
Howard: I think being able to play with my sister. We played together for a little bit, and softball was more interactive with people compared to basketball. I just kind of gravitated toward it more — and I was better at softball.
Frierson: What is it like growing up in a house full of sisters?
Howard: A lot of different attitudes [laughs]. It was really fun. I was able to learn from them, and we always had something to do. It was nice just to talk to them because they always knew where I was coming from. It was chaotic, but it was nice.
Frierson: Were you always a pitcher?
Howard: My primary positions were actually third and first, but then when I was 8 or 9, I picked up pitching. I played first in high school, all the way up to my junior year, and then I did it once my senior year. But other than that, I was a pitcher.
Frierson: I’m always blown away by what softball pitchers can do with the ball. Do you remember a moment when you realized that you were good?
Howard: I want to say my speed was the biggest thing for me. Knowing that I was throwing so much harder than girls my age was kind of like, OK, this might actually be something. Let’s pick this up and run with it. Even now, I’m mesmerized by the stuff that I’m able to do in the bullpen with Chels (pitching coach and former Georgia great Chelsea Wilkinson).
Pitching’s very interesting, to say the least.
Frierson: In high school, when you can be overwhelming, is there any part of you that feels a little bad for the other team?
Howard: When I would play teams that would be at a lower caliber than we were, like me, just as a human being, I would always feel bad, like I shouldn’t be out here playing with these girls. That’s when our coach would bring in the other pitchers.
When you’re not playing a team that’s close to equal with you, it makes you feel a little like, eh. But in college, it’s completely different.
Frierson: What is something you could eat every day and never get tired of it?
Howard: Probably steak. I like a steak, baked potato and broccoli. Broccoli or salad.
Frierson: I have to say, that’s pretty basic.
Howard: It is very basic, yes [laughs].
Frierson: Is that a reflection of your tastes in general? Do you like to keep things simple?
Howard: I do like to keep things simple. I will say that I’m a very “extra” person. That’s just my personality. I like to do things too much sometimes.
I am an extravert, though. I love being with people. Some of the things that I do, it can be really simple, but I’m going to make it more grand and put more time into it, maybe overthink it just a little bit. I’m often doing the little extras that don’t need to be done to get the solution that I need. I just like to challenge myself sometimes.
Frierson: What do you do to get away from school and softball?
Howard: Yesterday, I actually went for a walk. It was very peaceful and just a way to get away from the softball field. Shopping is one of those stress relievers. I don’t have to go spend a lot of money; just being able to be out and about is good for me. I also love seeing my friends from my hometown, and going home is always peaceful for me.
Listening to gospel music in my car, I absolutely love it. I love to drive with the windows down while listening to gospel music. That’s really what gets me at my peace.
Frierson: When you’re cranking the gospel music in your car, are you singing along as loud as you can?
Howard: I’m singing and worshiping, for sure.
Frierson: How would you rate your singing voice? I bet it’s really good.
Howard: [Laughs] I’d give it a 6 out of 10, maybe [laughs]. I’d give myself a 5 or 6.
Frierson: I can see you singing in the church choir.
Howard: I actually did when I was younger.
Frierson: In a perfect world, what are you doing in 10 years?
Howard: I’m 19, so I want to be married with children, a homeowner and I have my own business. I want to be a real-estate agent and have my own softball facility. In a perfect world, those are the elements that I will have.
Frierson: What can you tell me about the softball facility that you want?
Howard: I want to start out with one lane, just pitching. I want to give pitching lessons, and hopefully grow it into an academy of some kind. My mom actually gave me that idea. That’s what I want to have. I don’t know if I’ll have that in 10 years, but I want to build towards that.
(This Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Assistant Sports Communications Director John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.
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