Lowery Jr., Shives earn coaching honors

June 14, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

Martinsburg coach John Lowery Jr. and his Bulldogs enjoyed a second straight visit to the West Virginia Class AAA state tournament.

While there, the Bulldogs proved true the 'third time's a charm' theory.

After losing to Nitro in the state semifinals last season and during the regular season in 2009 -- both by 10-0 shutouts -- the Bulldogs turned the tables with a 9-8 victory last Sunday for the state title.

Lowery has been named The Herald-Mail 2009 All-Area Coach of the Year. He is joined on the sidelines by Mark Shives of Clear Spring, the All-Washington County Coach of the Year.

"It was fun to watch the basketball team win a state title and I didn't want to be left behind," said Lowery. "With the seven returning starters and the pitching that was coming back, I knew we would have a good chance."


The Bulldogs finished the season with a 28-9 record and pounded away at most opponents, averaging over 10 runs per game.

"(Scoring) 10 runs a game takes the pressure off," said Lowery. "You can be aggressive and you know you're never out of a game.

"We had a lot of significant contributions," he said. "The kids did a lot of lifting and work on their own during the offseason. We've had a good run the last four years. (Brandon) King and (Ryan) Bennett are seniors and they won 101 games."

Shives guided Clear Spring to a 15-3 record as he garnered the top county coaching award for the second straight year following a 19-4 performance in 2008. He was also named the All-County Boys Basketball Coach of the Year this season.

He is quick to deflect any of his recognition toward his players.

"I've been blessed with a good crop of kids," said Shives. "Any time you win, you have to attribute it to the kids."

The Blazers were returning a solid core that made a trip to the Maryland Class 1A state semifinals last year, and although they fell short this year, there was no reason to hang their heads.

"Pitching and defense was the basic philosophy this year," Shives said. "We didn't have a real long ball threat. The kids put a lot of time into this and when they want to, that makes you as a coach want to do so also."

Shives had three major contributors who will be playing at the college level. Josh Kehr will play at Davis & Elkins, Kyle Crist is heading to West Virginia State and Jordan Thurber to Hagerstown Community College.

Shives said his next team has already begun offseason weight conditioning.

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