By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – All eyes focused on Effingham County right-hander Griffin Howe as he stood on the mound in the Rebels series finale against Glynn Academy.
But only one set of eyes mattered to the senior. Howe’s grandfather Tom Golovich from Michigan was in attendance. Golovich was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common type of malignant brain tumor.
Their days together are numbered, but not their memories.
“We’re really close. He’s seen me grow up and now you realize there may not be many more opportunities,” Howe said. “It was a special night. I know he’s so proud of me. I was pretty nervous. I didn’t want to do bad.”
On the baseball diamond, Howe has given his grandfather a lot of reasons to be proud. Howe’s the Rebels’ leading hitter with a .333 batting average and the team’s top pitcher with an earned run average under 1.00 heading into region play.
His season started with a home run in the opener against Lakeside Evans.
“I’m bigger and stronger now so I wanted higher (power numbers) this year,” said the 6-foot-1, 165-pounder who hits third or fourth in ECHS’ lineup.
Howe, a third baseman/pitcher, is already committed to St. Johns River State College – a junior college located in Orange Park, Florida, that is ranked seventh in the NJCAA Division II baseball top-20 poll.
But Howe stays focused on the immediate future. ECHS lost its first two games against Glynn Academy 14-4 and 11-4. He pitched in relief in the first game. He remembered giving up two hits to the first two batters, then a home run.
“The next game, I tried to study how Glynn’s hitters were approaching their at bats and what my advantages could be,” Howe said.
Before the third game of the series with Glynn, Howe said the team held a players-only meeting.
“We had to get things straightened out,” he said. “This is my last time playing with these guys and I want to make it memorable.”
And Howe wanted to make another memory – for his grandfather.
So Griffin took the ball and shut down a team that had dominated the first two games.
He also had a double, which should have been a home run because, unbeknownst to the umpire, the shot grazed the foul pole.
“Griffin was lights out and we played better defense,” said ECHS coach Shane Ramsey about the 3-2 win. “I was proud of how we fought back.”
Glynn threatened in the seventh inning, scoring a run and getting the potential tying runner in scoring position.
But Howe pitched out of the jam.
After briefly celebrating with his team, Howe found his grandfather in the stands. They had more catching up to do.