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Lowery keeps it simple

June 10, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

For someone who has amassed 998 career wins and nine West Virginia Class AAA state titles in his 37-year career, and who was inducted into the National Federation of High Schools Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, one might think Jefferson baseball coach John Lowery has some sort of genius insight into the game.

In truth, Lowery is more of a KISS kind of coach - "Keep It Simple, Stupid."

"I really think coaching at the high school level is about motivation and getting the kids on the same page to do things together," Lowery said. "You have to have a basic feel for the sport, but you don't have to be complex. If you get them on the same page, you'll have success."

Lowery certainly knows a thing or two about success, and 2007 was no different. The Cougars went 34-4 and captured their ninth state title last weekend in Charleston - leading to Lowery being named the 2007 Herald-Mail Baseball Coach of the Year.

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And what Lowery knows about success, is that success breeds success. Jefferson's first state title came in 1979, and since then Cougars baseball has become a major part of Jefferson County's way of life.

"There gets to be a community spirit about it," Lowery said. "It starts when (the kids are) young, and it breeds interest and support. It takes a community effort, and the kids know (the community) cares about them."

This year's team was a case study in the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Jefferson's team ERA was a paltry 2.17, its team batting average a scorching .341.

While three players - pitchers Jonathan Hash and Brandon Campbell, and outfielder Matt Tiano - were All-Area First Team selections, and Drew Stevens made the Second Team, they were far from the only players who made a real impact in the run to the state title.

"Everybody had a significant play in the tournament," Lowery said. "Look at Justin Carey. He was hurt all season, but he'd come to practice, get his running in, throw 20 or 30 pitches, and we wound up needing him in the final."

Carey started the state championship game and earned the win with 4 1/3 solid innings.

"There's a lesson there for perseverance," Lowery said. "He was frustrated, but he did his work and it paid off."

In addition to their play on the field. Lowery said what stands out about this year's team is the camaraderie the players shared.

"They were really supportive of one another. If someone made a mistake out in the field, the rest of them would meet that guy coming into the dugout and pick him up," Lowery said. "A perfect example, in the sectionals, Drew struck out a kid and the ball got past the catcher and went to the backstop, and the kid wound up on first base. Drew called the catcher out, they smacked gloves, Drew gave him a pat on the back and said, 'Don't worry about it, we'll get the next guy.' That's the stuff I see out there that stands out to me."

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