Johnson County High School Senior Ben Howard was one of the leaders of the Longhorns. Photo by Joey Icenhour.
By Tim Chambers
Everyone wants to have an ace in the hole, and that’s the case with Johnson County High School’s baseball team. Ben Howard is a diamond in the rough, according to his head coach Pete Pavusek, who is all smiles when talking about one of his senior leaders.
“He’s a super kid and one of my favorite players ever,” said Pavusek. “You couldn’t ask for a better leader to have on your team. All he does is win. It might not look pretty at times, but he does everything right. He’s good in the classroom, and he’s even better on the field. I’ve watched him play with my son Petie since Little League. He’s definitely a player that can play at the next level. If we are in a big game, I want the ball in his hands. Ben’s a winner. He’s the type of kids that a coach would love to have. I believe he can play some baseball at the next level at the right school and given the chance.”
Pavusek showed his confidence in Howard during his sophomore year when he used him as a closer. He’s grown into bigger and better roles since then.”
“I love my coach and the fact that he has confidence in me,” said Howard. “He is a great coach to play for who knows the game. He played college and understands how it is supposed to be played.”
Howard’s younger brother Ezra is a standout player on the junior high team. He said they had spent time throwing (Long toss) since schools been out, but having no games have been hard.
“Not getting to play is the hardest thing that I’ve ever tried to adjust to. You play your three years in high school just to get to your senior year and now this. I would really love to go on and play college baseball if somebody would give me a chance. I am confident in my abilities, and I know that I can do it. I went to a few camps, one at Appy State.”
“Big Ben knows that the Horns are missing out on a chance to have a particular season. The team was starting to jell.
“I feel like this was the team that could win our conference. We had a lot of good players and the pitching to do it. We played Central down to the wire in our last game and should have won. I just wish we could get out on the field one last time and prove ourselves.”
Howard came up through the Johnson County Little League ranks as a member of the Dodgers. He is hoping for one more chance to prove himself.
“It doesn’t look like we’ll get to play anymore high school, so that’s tough to swallow. We, seniors, are missing out on a lot.”
A chance to play some college baseball could help ease the pain for Howard should it happen. He’s much more talented than most Class A players and is a proven standout performer among his conference opponents.
Pauvsek closed with this about Howard.“I love throwing batting practice to Ben because he hits everything. It’s not always pretty, but he gets the job done. That’s what you look for in a quality player, and Ben is that. He’s the type of kid that any coach would be proud to have on his baseball team. You can’t find a better young man. He does everything right, and sometimes that doesn’t get noticed.”