Athlete of the Week: Howell finds new home at Conway

Only a 10-mile stretch of Highway 501 separates Conway and Aynor high schools, but it seemed like a world away for Sydny Howell when she transferred to the former from the latter this school year.

As a lifelong student at Aynor, one of the smaller schools in the state, the junior had to make the adjustment to Conway, one of the largest. Softball has been one of the keys to her making a successful transition.

“The school part was a big adjustment because Aynor is 2A with about 700 students and everybody knew everybody,” said Howell, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for her recent play for the Lady Tigers.

“Conway is 4A with about 1,400 or 1,500 students, so it’s twice as big and it was a little awkward, but I knew a couple of girls from softball. We all grew up playing rec league together, so that helped a lot.”

Now Howell is a household name in the Conway softball community after bringing her pitching skills to the Lady Tigers’ already solid lineup. Howell is 5-2 on the season and averages 11 strikeouts to only four hits per game.

“She has been very solid for us this season so far,” said Conway coach Mike Skipper. “Her control is her strength as she is able to throw with such accuracy that it’s easy to pitch in and out, up and down on hitters.”

Howell displayed that pinpoint accuracy last week when she was on the mound for one of the biggest wins in school history as she pitched the Lady Tigers against then-No. 1-ranked Carolina Forest. She struck out 12 batters to help Conway to a 5-3 victory.

“That was not only the highlight for me but for the whole team as well,” Howell said. “It was a big turning point for our team because it was such a confidence-booster. It showed all of us that if we go out and play hard we can do it.”

The boost in confidence was especially important for Howell, who went from facing some of the smaller schools in the state to some of the largest in just one season and also plays outfield and first base for the Lady Tigers. Now she knows she can go up against – and beat – some of the best.

“She gives us a chance every time she takes the mound and that’s all we can ask,” Skipper said. “We are glad to have her on our team.”

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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