Howard’s huge game leads Rams past St. James

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ST. JAMES – West St. John’s Austin Howard provided plenty of highlights as quarterback  on the football field last season. Last week, he showed that he’s plenty capable of the same on the baseball diamond.
Howard struck out 20 batters and hit a grand slam himself to lead his Rams to a 7-2 victory at rival St. James, allowing West St. John to avenge an earlier loss to the Wildcats.
Howard pitched a complete game two hitter. He walked three. At the plate, he finished with four RBIs.
His grand slam came in the top of the third inning, pushing the Rams’ lead to 5-0.
“It’s a rivalry game, and Austin’s got family and friends (in St. James Parish),” said West St. John assistant coach Greg Joseph. “So he wanted to come out and set the tone early. He threw a lot of strikes and, when the game was close, came up big with the grand slam.”
The Rams’ Dontre Turner collected two RBIs and Lavonta Augusta earned himself two hits.
West St. John fell 11-10 to St. James on March 1. The difference this time, Smith said, was his team didn’t walk nearly as many.
“We didn’t put guys in position to score without making them swing the bat,” said Joseph. “Austin managed the game well.”
The Rams are off to a strong start this season. They entered the week with a 4-2 record.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys who are showing a little hustle and who are attentive to the things we’re trying to teach them,” said Joseph.
He said Howard, Turner and Augusta are all being counted on to lead the charge this season for WSJ.
He also noted Anfernee Lumar, a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher, will be key to the team’s overall fortunes this season. Rashad Smith also has proven to be a valuable player, primarily for his ability to play multiple positions. He’s played at shortstop, third base and second base.
The Rams were scheduled to face East St. John Tuesday, after press time. After that, WSJ is set for a week off before returning to action next week for a district opening game at St. John-Plaquemine.
“We’ll use the time off to get back to basics,” said Joseph. “Reducing walks and trying to get better at bunting the ball. We don’t swing it that well up and down the lineup right now, but we have a lot of speed and if we make contact,  we can use it.”