AUBURN, Ala. – When the 2023 regular season concludes and the Auburn Tigers head to Hoover for the SEC Baseball Tournament, Cason Howell could hold the program record for career games played.
After leading Auburn to its second College World Series appearance in three postseasons, Howell decided to remain on the Plains for his fifth season.
“Finishing in Omaha and coming very close to winning the national championship, being right there, left me wanting to get another chance at it,” Howell said. “I love this program and love being part of this team. I feel like I have more to do here.”
From 2019-22, Howell has played in 191 games, making 189 starts in center field. With 55 games played, he would equal the record Jay Wagoner set playing in 246 from 1992-95.
“That distinguishes himself and puts him in a category all by himself,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “I think that’s amazing.”
As a sophomore in 2020, Howell played in 11 of Auburn’s 18 games before the season ended in mid-March at the onset of the pandemic. As a result, the NCAA granted student-athletes an extra year of eligibility, opening the door for Howell to return for a fifth season.
As a freshman in 2019, Howell won the starting center field job and helped the Tigers advance to the CWS for the first time in 22 years. Three years later, he co-captained a team that returned to Omaha.
“It’s why I came back,” said Howell, closing in on his marketing degree from Auburn University’s Herbert College of Business. “There’s nothing like going on a run like we did in ’19 and this year at the regional here and in Corvallis. It’s special. It doesn’t come around very often and when you get a chance to do it for a third time, I want to do that again.”
An example of durability, Howell has started 113 consecutive games in center field, often dazzling fans with highlight-reel catches.
The return of a core group of veteran teammates such as Joseph Gonzalez, Tommy Sheehan, Bobby Peirce oath Nate LaRuealong with the opportunity to play another season for Thompson, whom Howell calls “the best head coach in the country,” further influenced his decision.
“This will be Kason’s team and I trust him with it as much as I’ve ever trusted a player because of his maturity, his experience, and his heart to want to lead in the right way,” Thompson said. “He’s already left a legacy and he’s only adding to it and putting icing on the cake by coming back another year.
“He’s going to be invaluable for any of these first-year players in helping their game grow as much as any coach will.”
“After being in the program for four years, having a great relationship with all of the coaches and loving the program, I know what the expectations are,” Howell said. “I know now what it takes to win and go to Omaha to compete for the national championship because I’ve seen it twice.
“It takes a unified group of guys who are committed to one goal. For me to get to share that with the new guys coming in, hold everyone accountable and a group of guys hold me accountable too, it’s going to be great. I’ I’m really excited about that role.”
“Getting a chance to wear AUBURN across your chest only comes around once in a lifetime so I figured I’d do it as long as I could.”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) August 18, 2022
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer