In his seventh year at King, and his fifth as associate head coach, Luke Howard has had success leading the Tornado pitching staff. Under Howard’s tutelage, the King pitching staff helped the Tornado record back-to-back 30-win seasons and advance to the Conference Carolinas Tournament four times.
The 2017 season saw the Tornado pitching staff improve as they ranked third in the league in shutouts and fifth in Conference Carolinas in ERA. King also led the league, giving up the fewest hits, walks and home runs. At the back end of the bullpen, Mitch Stophel ranked eighth in the league with three saves.
In 2016 Howard led the Tornado pitching staff that boasted one of the top closers in the nation, Nathan Helke. The senior ranked 34th in all of NCAA Division II with eight saves. King finished the season with a record of 18-30, going 10-17 in Conference Carolinas play.
The pitching staff helped lead King to a conference record of 16-10, finishing fourth in the league to qualify for the Conference Carolinas Tournament for the fourth straight year in 2015. King finished the season with an overall record of 24-26 when the season came to an end in the league tournament. Of the four Tornado that were selected All-Conference Carolinas, two were pitchers, Heath Loyd and Alex Martin.
Just as King did in 2013, the Tornado won their first two conference tournament games behind stellar pitching to run their winning streak to nine games. The Tornado advanced to the conference tournament championhip game for the second time in as many years, but fell to the University of Mount Olive to finish as runners-up. Under Howard's tutelage, Cory Rhodes was named second team all-conference after leading the league in strikeouts and innings pitched.
In 2013 the Tornado arms help the Tornado qualify for the Conference Carolinas Tournament where King started 3-0 behind stellar starts from Cory Rhodes, Alex Gonzalez and Reiss Stanley. Rhodes earned All-Conference Carolinas honors after anchoring the staff and Gonzalez was named to the All-Tournament team following his complete game performace over Coker College.
Despite the loss of the team’s ace from 2011, Howard helped mold a three-armed machine that accounted for 22 of the team’s 30 wins last season. He helped Cory Rhodes become the Tornado’s No. 1 hurler, leading the team in wins (9), earned run average (3.09), and strikeouts (74) en route to achieving All-Conference honors. Rhodes was second in the conference in overall wins and third in strikeouts while posting numbers across the board that were personal improvements for the sophomore. Howard also groomed lefty Reiss Stanley into a full-time starter while turning Wes Houser into a threat from the bump at any point in the game with his seven wins, two saves, and three complete games while leading the team and finishing second in the league in innings pitched (98.0).
Prior to coming to King, Howard spent the last three seasons at NCAA Division II affiliate Ouachita Baptist University (Ark.) of the Gulf South Conference. While at Ouachita, Howard coached two pitchers to All-Conference honors, while overseeing one Player of the Year and All-Region player. In his three years at Ouachita, four players went on to sign professional contracts, including left-handed pitcher Kolby Moore who signed with the River City Rascals in the summer of 2011. In his first season with OBU, Howard helped the team to a 37-20 overall record, including a 23-5 mark at home, and housed a 10-game winner on the team’s starting pitching rotation.
After spending a season as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, Springboro (Ohio), Howard began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Cincinnati during the 2006-2007 season. After one season he moved on to fellow Division I affiliate Murray State University for the 2007-2008 campaign. During his time at Cincinnati and Murray State, Howard coached nine players who went on to play professional baseball. At UC, Howard coached the Bearcats’ winningest pitcher in program history and Minnesota Twins 2008 MLB Draft seventh round selection, Dan Osterbrock.
Howard began his collegiate playing career as a pitcher at Purdue University (2000-03) before transferring to Ohio University (2003-05), where he finished his career. While at Ohio, Howard earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing and sociology. He completed his master’s degree in leadership from Fort Hays State University in August 2012.
A native of Springboro, Ohio, Howard is married to the former Annie Brumback and two sons, Drew and Will.