By STEVE KRAH
Pat Lowrey wants to know how his players can hit, pitch or field the baseball.
But he also wants to relate to them as people.
The head baseball coach at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Ind., puts a priority on building relationships as he develops his Raiders on the diamond.
“Without the relationships, players aren’t going to listen to you,” says Lowrey, who enters his seventh season in charge at Harrison in 2019. “It doesn’t matter how much you know.
“Then the baseball comes.”
Lowrey’s baseball knowledge was built as a player at McCutcheon High School in Lafayette and at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
Senior right-hander Lowrey was the winning pitcher for the 1999 IHSAA Class 4A state champions (McCutcheon beat Lawrence North 7-6). He recorded a called third strike with the bases loaded to end the game.
“I threw a lot of pitches that day,” says Lowrey. “It was one of those drizzling nights. Between me and my catcher (Nick McIntyre, who went on to play at Purdue University then pro ball and is now an assistant coach at the University of Toledo), we had passed balls and wild pitches. But were able to get out of the sticky situation.”
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Jake Burton was then the Mavericks head coach.
“He had high expectations which made us better,” says Lowrey of Burton. “He helped me as a coach know the importance of organization and discipline both as a player and a coach.”
At Ball State, Lowrey spent three seasons for Rich Maloney and one with Greg Beals. Lowrey appeared in 32 games and the Cardinals won the Mid-American Conference title in 2001 and MAC West crowns in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
“(Maloney) does such a good job of building relationships with the community and players,” says Lowrey. “He connects to so many top-end recruits. He’s one of the best recruiters nationally. He has had a lot of success in the Big Ten and the MAC.”
Teammates who went high in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft during Lowrey’s time at BSU include right-hander Bryan Bullington (No. 1 overall in 2002 to the Pittsburgh Pirates), left-hander Luke Hagerty (first round in 2002 to the Chicago Cubs), outfielder Brad Snyder (first round in 2003 to the Cleveland Indians), right-hander Paul Henry (seventh round in 2002 to the Baltimore Orioles) and right-hander Justin Weschler (fourth round in 2001 to the Arizona Diamondbacks).
Outfielder Larry Bigbie went in the first round of the 1999 draft to Baltimore. Burlington played high school ball at Madison (Ind.) Consolidated, Weschler at Pendleton Heights and Bigbie at Hobart. Hagerty and Snyder are Ohio products while Henry played in high school baseball in Tennessee.
Lowery remembers Beals (now head coach at Ohio State University) as having a high Baseball I.Q. and the ability to enjoy it.
“He really understood the game and he had a lot of fun doing it,” says Lowrey. “Baseball is a kid’s game and it’s meant to be fun.”
Lowery began his coaching career with junior varsity stints at Delta (2004) and McCutcheon (2005). He was pitching coach at Harrison in 2006 and 2007 before serving as head coach at Delphi (2008-12). He was going to be head coach at Brownsburg, but some health issues arose and he stayed in Lafayette, eventually becoming head baseball coach and a special education teacher at Harrison.
The Raiders have sent a number of players on to college baseball during Lowrey’s tenure.
“I take pride in that,” says Lowrey. “I try to help our kids reach those goals if that’s what they want.”
Outfielder/shortstop Carter Bridge has transferred from Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill., to Indiana University, where Franklin Community High School graduate Jeff Mercer is now head coach. Left-hander Matt McConnell and outfielder/left-hander Bobby Dearing are both at Western Michigan University, where New Albany graduate Billy Gernon is head coach.
Current Harrison senior Jack Ross, now recuperating from Tommy John surgery, has committed to play at Taylor University.
Lowrey says shortstop Trey Cochran and catcher/first baseman Jacob Kyle are starting the recruiting process.
The Harrison coaching staff for 2019 includes Christian Vukas, Dave Gilbert and Kerry Yoder with Lowrey and the varsity plus Jon Laird and Deryk Quakenbush as well as Shawn Louks, Leighton Mennen and Hayden Kuxhausen with the Blue and Orange units.
Lowery expects about 65 to 70 for tryouts with 45 to 50 making the three squads. There will be 14 to 20 players per team, including some used as courtesy runners and some pitcher-onlys.
“We want to develop these kids,” says Lowrey. “Especially at the two JV levels, we want to make sure we don’t miss out on the develop.”
Harrison has one on-field diamond.
“That goes back to Coach Burton and that organization,” says Lowrey. “We have to be organized and creative in how we approach practices and games.”
Harrison uses a batting practice circuit with every player on the field. The Raiders sometimes utilize the adjacent football field.
“We want to make sure kids are in small groups and constantly working,” says Lowrey.
Harrison is part of the North Central Conference (with Harrison, Kokomo, Lafayette Jeff, Logansport and McCutcheon in the West Division and Anderson, Arsenal Tech, Marion, Muncie Central and Richmond in the East Division). Teams play home-and-home series within their divisions then compete in a seeded cross-divisional tournament the two Saturdays in May.
The Raiders are in an IHSAA Class 4A grouping with Kokomo, Lafayette Jeff, Logansport, McCutcheon and Zionsville. Harrison has won 11 sectional crowns — the last in 2015.
Pat and Lauren Lowrey were married in 2005. She is the former Lauren Jillson, who played three sports at Munster (Ind.) High School and volleyball at Ball State, where she met Pat. The couple have two sons — Jeremy (11) and Brady (8).
Pat Lowrey, a graduate of McCutcheon High School and Ball State University, is entering his seventh season as head baseball coach at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Ind., in 2019.