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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | AREA COLLEGE NOTEBOOK

Howard Warming to College Ball

March 11, 2000|STEVE HENSON

It looks like Kevin Howard made the right decision.

Howard told major league scouts last June he would attend Miami unless he received a signing bonus equal to that of a first-round draft pick. The pros backed off, and he wasn't drafted until the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres.

Howard, a four-year standout at Westlake High who batted over .500 as a sophomore and senior, shrugged and packed for Miami.

With 21 games under his belt, Howard is showing he will be drafted much higher when he becomes eligible after his junior year. He is batting .452, 52 points higher than any of his teammates, and has made only four errors.

"Kevin Howard is just playing great baseball," said Jim Morris, Miami's coach.

Miami (14-7), defending national champion, is off to a somewhat disappointing start. But the Hurricanes' prize freshman has been sensational and has a 14-game hitting streak.

Howard, the Hurricanes' shortstop, is 28 for 62 with 20 runs batted in, six doubles, a triple and a home run. He bats either second or third in the lineup.

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Not as flashy as Howard, but nearly as steady in the field is Josh Harris of San Diego.

Harris, a junior from Pierce College and Calabasas High, has made only five errors for the Toreros (13-7-1) while batting .262. He is 16 for 61 and has scored 15 runs.

"Josh is playing really well," Coach Rich Hill said. "He's been a key to our fast start."

Harris' teammate, pitcher Mike Amundson of Newbury Park, has won two decisions after a slow start. The senior right-hander defeated Pt. Loma Nazarene, 12-1, and Utah, 3-2.

"Mike has pitched great lately," Hill said.

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