05/28/2018 7:28 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – May 28, 2018 – When the Northwest Indiana Oilmen open their 2018 season on Monday night at Crestwood, they’ll do so with their longest-tenured player on the mound.
When this season ends, Christian Howell will have been a member of the Oilmen for over half of the team’s seven-year history. His unprecedented tenure dates all the way back to Adam Enright’s first season as Oilmen manager in 2015.
Howell transferred to Trinity Christian this year after starting his career at Minnesota State. Enright is on staff for the Trolls and many other former Oilmen are on the roster.
“I’ve gotten to play with a number of guys with the Oilmen and then joined them at Trinity,” Howell said. “Summer ball is so much fun and relaxing. You work on yourself and are around guys you like. I’m ready to have some fun again this summer.”
Howell, who has one season of college eligibility remaining, will serve as a veteran presence on an Oilmen team that includes players as young as incoming freshmen.
“I think they’ll catch up quickly,” Howell said. “They always do. They warm up to us by the end of the summer. They’ve got some great role models on this team. Together, we’ll allow them to loosen up a little bit.”
Howell has gone through several obstacles including an appendix removal and mono, so he’s trying to get back to full health on a consistent basis. He’s unsure of what his stamina will be early in the summer, but is excited to see what he has in the tank.
Howell’s first season with the Oilmen was 2015, when he appeared in nine games and made five starts, finishing with a 2.41 ERA and 2-1 record in 52 1/3 innings. The Aurora, Ill. native and Metea Valley High School product famously started a regular season game on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 and held the Hounds to an unearned run on five hits over five innings, then pitched 3 1/3 innings on Saturday, two innings on Sunday and 1 2/3 innings on Monday in a playoff series against the Lexington Snipes.
The 2016 season saw Howell take on an even larger role, as he went 5-1 over nine games (eight starts) as a key member of the Oilmen rotation, compiling a 2.66 ERA in 50 2/3 innings. He made three starts and nine appearances in 2017, logging 32 innings and going 3-1 with one save.
Howell is already the Oilmen all-time leader in innings pitched by a wide margin with 135 and owns the team record for career wins with 10. He lists his favorite Oilmen moment as watching Jordan Petty pitch a complete game to clinch the 2016 MCL Championship against DuPage County.
As a veteran of three summer seasons and one spring season with Enright, Howell knows what to expect from the Oilmen skipper.
“Enright runs a no-nonsense schedule,” Howell said. “He’s very articulate in the way he wants things done and how he wants it done. He knows everything about baseball that I don’t. Having someone to constantly have a back-and-forth conversation with to get better has been valuable. He’s been a great guide through a lot of the hiccups that I’ve had.”