Ventura County Pirates’ LHP Josh Howitt has committed to play for the University of California, Santa Barbara during the 2019-2020 academic year and the 2020 NCAA Division I baseball season, the six-foot-five 210lb rising sophomore announced Wednesday.
“I’m in shock that it still happened,” Howitt said.
UCSB is a top-tier school for collegiate baseball and finished atop the Big West conference last season with a 45-11 overall record.
“They’ve always been a good team and specifically last year they were like eighth in the nation, so that’s a pretty good record to have,” Howitt said.
Anyone who has seen Howitt pitch has observed his ability to stay composed and focused on the mound. He revealed his sense perspective when discussing what attracted him to UCSB.
“The first and main thing is their academics,” Howitt said. “They’re one of the best public schools out here and while I’m playing baseball I want to get a good education as well.”
The Gauchos lost two dominant and physically imposing left handers to the 2019 MLB draft. Six-foot-seven 215lb LHP Ben Brecht was drafted in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Rays and six-foot-six 240lb LHP Jack Dashwood was taken in the 12th round by the Los Angeles Angels.
Howitt has four pitches that he throws to both lefties and righties. Long Beach State and California State University, Northridge were actively pursuing him. Howitt wanted the opportunity to fill one of the roles vacated by Brecht and Dashwood.
“I know Santa Barbara is a fan of big lefties so I’m hoping to step up and be one of those guys,” Howitt said.
The Gauchos recruited Howitt after their head coach, Andrew Checketts, saw him pitch for the Ventura County Pirates in early July. Howitt is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA and three quality starts this summer.
“I am excited [Howitt] is staying in the area and look forward to seeing what he’ll become,” Pirates’ general manager George Vranau said. “He could be the next Ben Brecht.”