Athlete Profile: Kate Howard

You could easily describe senior Kate Howard in terms of her outstanding statistics on the mound, which rank among the best in Colgate history in nearly every major category. She is second all-time with 335 strikeouts, and third in wins and shutouts with 45 and 13, respectively. Further, Howard is fifth in complete games with 51 and seventh in career ERA at 2.l8. In 2005, she was named to the all-Patriot League first-team. Two years earlier, she won the Patriot League Rookie of the Year award after equaling or beating Colgate’s rookie records for wins, complete games, shutouts and strikeouts.

According to Howard, all of those accomplishments are nice because “they show off my hard work and the program’s development into one of the strongest in the Patriot League.” But Howard passes off most of the credit for her success to others.

“Coach [Vickie Sax] is so supportive of me, and most importantly, our teams have always had great chemistry,” she said. “We push each other hard to improve and be contenders for the league title. Winning is what drives us. The honors are secondary and come because of our success.”

Indeed, Howard said her proudest achievement was another thing that happened in her first season.

“Nothing in my career topped winning the league and getting to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Howard said. “We got to play in a real softball stadium against national powerhouses UCLA and Long Beach State, and we took Long Beach State to extra innings [with Howard pitching a complete game]. I’ll never forget that experience.”

While the Raiders have not returned to the tournament since then, Howard says that she is glad to have picked Colgate.

“When I was deciding what school to attend, Colgate’s softball program seemed competitive enough, but academics mattered too,” she said. “I was not looking to just walk onto a good softball team and get a sub-par education.”

This season, Howard has thrived in difficult circumstances. After an injury to junior starter Kelsey Nordstrom, the team’s only other starting pitcher at the start of the season, Howard has been forced to pitch in up to three games over a two-day period while the Raiders develop younger and inexperienced starters. Still, Howard has handled the extra work well, going 11-10 with a 2.45 ERA and 84 strikeouts through last weekend. Those numbers put her among the league’s top-five pitchers this season.

Howard found many reasons for her success this season, despite the extra work.

“Marty [Erb, the team’s trainer] has been working with me to keep my arm fresh,” Howard said. “Then adrenaline always seems to kick in on game-day, and I find a way to pitch well and give us a chance to win. Plus we’ve all gotten behind [first-year] Ashley Rowe, who keeps getting better every week and helps us compete even when I don’t pitch.”

After graduating, Howard said that she plans to work for a year.

“After that, I hope to attend graduate school,” she said. “I’m interested in health care administration and policy, because it connects with some of the work I’ve done for my sociology major.”

But Howard also intends to keep a place set aside for softball.

“I want to do some coaching if possible,” she said. “One summer, I helped out coaching kids at home and it was a great experience. As a coach, I can help kids make goals and then exceed them like my coaches and teammates helped me do. I would not have gotten this far without the support I received growing up.”

For the Raider softball team, the support given by Howard over the last four years has been just as important.