Canada catcher didn’t expect to grab A-Sun honors this year

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 10, 2002

Sports Editor

Troy State’s Tamra Howren likes to smile during a softball game. She does it all the time.

Whether walking toward the mound for a talk with her pitcher or removing her headgear after a foul ball, the Lady Trojans’ freshman catcher might just break into a grin.

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A meeting on the mound, someone cracks a joke, there’s Howren’s face lighting up the infield. Pops a home run, (of which she’s had eight this season, a TSU record), she’s crossing the plate with a high-five ready for each teammate and her whites flashing, as if to say, "I got ya, pitcher."

Howren hails from the Great White North. That’s Canada. White Rock, British Columbia to be exact. And she’s a good reason why the Lady Trojans are 46-19 on the year with a chance to crack 50 provided they win out at this weekend’s A-Sun Conference Tournament and make it to the NCAA regionals.

She leads the A-Sun in RBIs with 53, another TSU record she claimed for her own this season. Her batting average is .314, good enough for third on a team of solid hitters.

And while the Troy State roster is dotted with players who hail from as far away as Washington, Nevada and Colorado, how exactly does a girl from Canada cross the border to play softball in the deep south?

"Recruiting," Howren said. "There’s a girl that came down here and played last year and she recommended me to the coaches. I started talking to them and I just decided to come here. It was a good place for me to live."

TSU head softball coach Melanie Davis said finding freshman like Howren who can step in and make an impact immediately is "tough".

"This is really a tribute to my assistant coach (Barbara Sherwood) because she does a great job as my recruiting coordinator," she said. "But it’s also a tribute to Troy State and our tradition because our girls help sell our program."

In fact, Howren doesn’t just love that she’s on scholarship playing softball for Davis’s softball program, she loves Troy and Alabama as well.

"She calls this her home now," said Davis. "Her Dad’s down here on vacation from Canada. This is the first time he’s seen her play. He told me that at Christmas she told him she was ready to get back home, meaning to Troy. She does enjoy it down here."

And Davis is certainly glad of that.

Howren collected freshman all-conference and first-team honors this season, joining teammates Jenny Boyd and Ashley Floyd on the freshman squad. Mindy Porep and Howren were named first-team all-conference and fellow Lady Trojan Peggy Swift was named to the second-team.

"It just felt good because I’ve been working hard all year and it’s finally starting to pay off," said Howren about the postseason honors. "It’s something I didn’t expect. I knew it was going to be tough on me when I came down here."

Howren said her biggest problem was adjusting to the faster pace of collegiate softball.

"The pitches are faster," she said. "And the intensity. There’s also more movement on defense."

Howren described British Columbia as full of "trees and hills".

"Plus it’s not as humid," she said. "The heat was a big thing down here for me and the humidity. Because we don’t have a lot of that. It’s exhausting sometimes, but you have to play through it."

‘We’ve had to rest her some during the year because of the heat and the stress on her back," adds Davis about the girl nicknamed the "Canadian Sensation". "But she’s going to have a big career for us. We’re glad to have her in Troy, America."