05/22/2017 2:24 PM -
Christian Howell went 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA (second-best among starters) for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen in 2016, and he’ll look to improve on those marks when he rejoins the team for his third season at Oil City Stadium.
Howell, an incoming senior at Minnesota State Mankato, worked in relief for most of his first season with the Oilmen in 2015. Last summer, he moved into a starting role and quickly became one of the leading arms for the Midwest Collegiate League’s best rotation.
“When I get to the summer I have some freedom,” Howell said. “My wannabe-drafted mentality kind of comes out and I just release everything and play baseball the real way.”
In the last two seasons, Howell has pitched over 100 combined innings for Northwest Indiana as both a starter and reliever. He has a career ERA of 2.53 and a 7-2 record. He gave the Oilmen a win in their first game of the 2016 MCL playoffs, pitching into the 7th inning and giving up just one run on five hits to the Joliet Admirals. Howell has pitched well in an Oilmen uniform, but the success isn’t what has him coming back for a third season with the team.
“Whiting is home to me. It’s a second home, especially with all my shenanigans and not playing a ton at my school. Whiting is a place I can go and show my true ability. It’s always been that, and I love the players and the atmosphere. It’s a one-of-a-kind place.” Known as one of the more easy-going personalities in the dugout, Howell looks forward to catching up with other returning teammates and connecting with new players as well.
“I just started a group chat with a bunch of the baseball boys,” Howell said. “I’m very excited to see those boys and I hope they’re excited to see me too. It’s been a long time. We usually get along really well and have a blast during the summer, especially when we win championships.”
As for individual goals, he wants to continue to work on developing velocity on his fastball, which he stays still needs improvement.
“Last year my two-seam fastball was about 88 mph,” Howell said. “I want to sit 90 at least this summer and focus on that little bit of velocity. I feel like I have four, five pitches I can throw at any time. Now it’s just getting that velocity down from there with that two-seam.”
Howell helped the Oilmen win its second Midwest Collegiate League title in 2016, and hopes this season the team can do the same.
“I hope we have a lot of fun and win another title. I think that’s the ultimate goal for everyone that’s on the team. It pretty much always has been and [Coach Adam] Enright deserves it. We work really hard for him and he does great things with our players.”