'BAMA Signee Exceeds Perfection

Few ever achieve perfection in the world of baseball, but for American Christian senior and Alabama baseball signee Del Howell, it happened twice in a row.

Fresh off the heels of his first career perfect game in a 2-0 win over Providence Christian in the first round of the AHSAA state playoffs, Howell hurled another perfect game in a 14-0 win over Maplesville, not allowing a batter to reach base for the entire game.

"I was excited," Howell said. "We won so big, and it was a shortened game - I really didn't think that much about it. I figured somebody else had done that before. It has just sunk in the last couple of days what I've really done."

What Howell did was become only the third known player in history to record perfect games in consecutive outings.

"It's pretty cool," said Howell, who signed with Alabama earlier this year. "I never thought I would do anything like this. It's fun, and another part of my dreams are coming true by setting records."

Howell fanned 16 batters in the seven-inning game against Providence, and he struck out 13 batters in the five-inning bout against Maplesville. Howell went to a three-ball count only once during his last outing, and only two balls were put into play. Third-baseman Brad Smelley recorded both assists on a weak groundout and a fifth-inning bunt.

Ironically enough, the last time a player pulled off the accomplishment was just two weeks ago. Anthony Velasquez of Bayside High (Queens, N.Y.) achieved the feat with his second consecutive perfect game coming on April 25, the same day Howell pitched his first perfecto.

The New York Daily News claimed Velasquez to be the only player ever to throw back-to-back perfect games, but the National Federation of State High School Associations soon stated otherwise.

After searching through the records, they found that it was initially pulled off in 1991 by Mike Bradley of Fort Bragg High in California.

Howell, who owns four pitches including a fastball that rides into the low-90s, will be gunning for history on Friday night as the top-ranked ACA Patriots take on South Lamar, which is the home to another ‘Bama signee, J.J. Baswell. A lot of people will be in attendance to see if Howell can make history, but the 6'4" southpaw said there will be no added pressure.

"I don't really get excited about the news," he said. "I just like to go out there and throw, pitch, and play ball. I used to get nervous when all the scouts were watching me, but now nothing really bothers me.

"If I can keep my command, I think I'll be alright. I've had really good command the last couple of games."

Regardless of whether Howell pitches a third perfect game, he will still most likely make history. He sits just two strikeouts away from breaking the AHSAA career record for strikeouts. The record currently sits at 517 and is held by current Troy Trojan and former Isabella High standout Ryan Ellison.

Howell has compiled an 11-1 record with 143 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. He has given up just 10 hits and has a staggering ERA of 0.22. But as impressive as he has been on the mound, Howell has put up some astounding offensive numbers.

The left-hand hitting Howell is batting .538 with 21 homers and 67 RBI. He smashed three long balls in the twin-bill sweep of Maplesville, including a two-run shot in his perfect game.

"Everything I could imagine when I was growing up is happening to me this year," Howell said. "Twenty-one homers and a chance to break pitching records in more than one way is just a dream come true season."

ACA is scheduled to play a doubleheader on Friday night in Tuscaloosa with first pitch set for 5 p.m.

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