West Mifflin catcher Howard looks to open eyes at baseball camp

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 11:51 p.m.

Dan Howard doesn't necessarily want to make a name for himself.

But he's all for somebody to actually know his name.

The West Mifflin rising senior catcher is hoping next month's Coastal Carolina satellite camp at Washington & Jefferson will accomplish just that.

For the second consecutive year, one of the most successful college baseball teams over the past decade, Coastal Carolina, is coming north in hopes to find a diamond in the rough.

Howard just might fit that description.

“Danny can be that kid,” said former West Mifflin assistant coach Jeff Rubinsak, one of the coordinators of the camp. “It is the best thing for kids like Danny, who really isn't a big name. This is his chance to prove himself whether for D-I, D-II or D-III. You never know. With this many college coaches coming, he will fit in somewhere.”

As of now, Howard fits in nowhere, and that's even after coming off a season in which he led West Mifflin in five offensive categories and helped the Titans to a section title and their first state playoff appearance.

“It's definitely been a problem for me,” Howard said of getting noticed by colleges. “I am having a little trouble getting colleges interested so I am doing this to try to get my name out there. Just get a little bit of recognition and maybe get a couple colleges interested.”

Howard hit .441 with 26 hits, six doubles, three home runs and 43 total bases for the Titans this spring. He has followed that up during the summer batting .346 with 17 RBIs for West Mifflin's undefeated American Legion team that qualified for the Region 6 tournament starting this weekend.

Howard, who also wrestles for West Mifflin, struggled as a sophomore and in the fall, which kept him off the college radar.

“Somebody who showed more potential earlier may have given the coaches a little bit more of a heads up,” Howard said. “For me, I kind of came out of nowhere. Even my teammates would say who would've guessed that I would've been leading the team in hitting?”

While Howard will be looking for a chance, 2014 Daily News Player of the Year Brandon Donovan will have a chance to prove that his junior year at Steel Valley wasn't a fluke. He hit .478 and went 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA.

“That is what makes this camp so good,” Rubinsak said. “Everybody has a chance to prove what they can do.”

Coastal Carolina typically holds camps only in the south, but enjoyed such success last year at West Mifflin's baseball complex (116 participants from seven states) that they decided to come back.

There are expected to be more than a dozen schools represented at W&J on Aug. 9 along with some local coaches such as Penn State Greater Allegheny's Jim Chester, South Park's Steve Bucci and Daily News League commissioner Nick Donato.

“They have found people before, so why not now?” Rubinsak said.

Montour's Anthony Marks is one of four from Pennsylvania on the Chanticleers roster. Brooks Marzka, who plays for Quinn Construction in the Daily News League, led Coastal Carolina in hits and home runs in 1999-2000.

“You don't see these kind of camps around this area,” Rubinsak said.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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