Rosewood grad Howell signs NLI with Appalachian State
By Allen Etzler
Published in Sports on June 23, 2014 1:48 PM
Reed Howell came close to not playing college baseball, but one pitching performance changed his outlook.
It came against East Carteret.
Howell threw a complete-game four-hitter and struck out 11 batters in the third-round playoff game. Over the next three days, Howell's phone blew up with calls from UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, Brevard, University of Mount Olive and Virginia Tech.
"It was weird," Howell said. "All I had heard was about Southeastern, (Lenoir Community College) and Barton. Then I heard App State, and I was like 'where has this been all year?'"
A travel-ball coach saw Howell throw against East Carteret and reached out to schools about the untapped recruit.
Howell received an invitation to play in a North Carolina-South Carolina game in Myrtle Beach. When he returned, he signed a national letter-of-intent with Appalachian State -- the one school Howell felt wanted him all along.
"They were the first school to really show interest, so I wanted to give them (my attention)," said Howell, who was named the 2014 News-Argus All-Area Player-of-the-Year and earned all-Carolina 1-A Conference accolades.
"I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first, but the more I saw it, it felt good. Everything just felt like a fit."
Howell helped lead the Eagles to 20 victories and grab a spot in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern regional championship series. The right-hander concluded the year 11-2 with a 0.92 earned run average in 77 2/3 innings.
He batted .421 with 32 hits and just three strikeouts.
Appalachian State recruited Howell to help bolster a program that's transitioning into the Sun Belt Conference. The Mountaineers finished 21-34 overall last season, including 12-14 in the Southern Conference.
Howell is expected to bring stability to a pitching staff that didn't have a single hurler throw more than 30 innings and no hurler who posted an ERA below 3.00.
A pitcher who relies on a fastball that travels in the high 80s and a breaking pitch that consistently drops at the plate, Howell can't be a two-pitch thrower at the Division I level.
Instead, he's got to develop a change-up and fix some of his mechanics that have caused stress on his arm in the past.
"After four years I'm hoping to touch 100," Howell chuckles. "Hey, as Jordan Gurley says, 'if no one's laughing at your goals, then your goals aren't big enough.'"
Howell almost didn't achieve this goal.
Rosewood squeaked by Gates County, 2-1, in the opening round of the playoffs. Had the Eagles not advanced to the third round, Howell's playing days would have ended.
Howell's parents had faith that he'd get recruited.
It took a while, but they were right.
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