Little League Graduates Play Key Role in University of Washington’s National Championship Season
In her fifth season as head softball coach at the University of Washington, Redmond (Wash.) South Little League alumna Heather Tarr has guided the Huskies to the 2009 NCAA Division I National Championship.
Freshman outfielder Kimi Pohlman, granddaughter of Hynie Pohlman, former Washington District 8 Administrator, scored the eventual title-winning run on a tapper back to the circle that University of Florida pitcher Stacey Nelson could not handle. Third-seeded Washington defeated top-seed Florida, 3-2, to sweep the best-of-three National Championship series for the school’s first NCAA title in softball.
Joining in the championship jubilation was senior infielder Ashley Charters, who played in the 1998 Little League Softball World Series representing Murrayhill Little League from Beaverton, Ore. Murrayhill Little League finished second, losing the World Championship game to Midway Little League, of Waco, Texas. Ms. Charters, was recently drafted by the Rockford Thunder of the National Pro Fastpitch softball league.
This season, the Huskies posted a 51-12 record, and made their second trip to the NCAA College Softball World Series under Coach Tarr. In 2007, the University of Washington finished third in the nation after consecutive appearances in the NCAA Super Regionals in 2005 and 2006. The team’s 2008 season ended in regional play. For her career, Coach Tarr is 193-103-1 overall, and 26-11 in postseason play.
Coach Tarr first picked up a ball glove at age seven. The Redmond, Wash., native quickly caught the eye of her coaches in the Redmond South Little League (RSLL).
By the time she was 12 years old, she was playing first base for RSLL’s Major Division baseball International Tournament team that reached the Western Region Tournament in San Bernardino, Calif.
“I thought baseball was my thing,” Coach Tarr said. “At that time, I really thought I was going to be the first girl to play Major League Baseball. I hit a couple of home runs when I was 12, including a grand slam after the other team walked in a run with the bases loaded to pitch to me.”
During her Little League days, Coach Tarr’s team was managed by Tom D’Amico and her father, Vic. With admiration for both coaches, she credits them with planting the coaching seed in her mind.
“I always wanted to coach from the time I got into high school,” Coach Tarr said. “The Little League experience was so rooted in my being that it gives me a ton of confidence even today. I was taught to respect the game at an early age, because the games are games, and even if we didn’t have success to always remember the fun.”
Coach Tarr switched over to softball in her teenage years and played on an inter-league team with Kirkland, (Wash.) Little League. Two years later, she was a key player on the Kirkland Little League team that won the 1993 Big League Softball World Series.
“I had to change over to softball at age 15, because the guys got bigger and stronger,” Coach Tarr said. “(At Kirkland Little League) I was coached by Daryl Parker and Terry Merritt who really knew the game and connected my baseball skills and athleticism to the game of fast-pitch softball.”
Following her graduation from Redmond High School in 1993, Coach Tarr stayed close to home, attended the University of Washington. While working toward a degree in geography, Coach Tarr found success on and off the softball field, including recognition as a three-year member of the Pac-10 All-Academic team (1994-97) and the Pac-10 All-Conference team (1995-97).
Coach Tarr, a four-year letter winner, was instrumental in the Huskies’ run to the College Softball World Series in 1996 and 1997, finishing second and third respectively. In 1997, Coach Tarr played a season in the Women’s Professional Fast-Pitch Softball League for the Tampa Bay Fire Stix.
“I wanted to play in college and playing Big League Softball gave me the chance to compete and be the best,” Coach Tarr said. “I attribute all of my wanting to coach with the game of Little League. Those were the favorite times of my life.”
Graduating in 1998, Coach Tarr quickly joined the coaching ranks, working as an undergraduate coaching assistant for the Huskies during the 1998 season that concluded with another third-place finish at the College Softball World Series.
Coach Tarr moved on to University of the Pacific in 1999 as an assistant coach. At Pacific for six seasons, she was elevated to associate head softball coach before returning to her alma mater in 2004 as head coach. While at Pacific, she attained a master’s degree in education.
“I think softball is faster (than baseball) and that makes it stand out,” Coach Tarr said. “It means more when you can dominate your ‘own’ sport, and it makes softball more attractive.”
Marrying her professional success with the foundation that Little League provided, Coach Tarr is generous to Little League coaches in the same way her coaches volunteered their time, effort and expertise. She has conducted and contributed to coaching clinics for Little League softball volunteers, and hosted several Little League Softball Days in recent years.