05/14/08 — Lancaster hopes CWS trip is in Trojan's future

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Lancaster hopes CWS trip is in Trojan's future

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 14, 2008 2:53 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Carl Lancaster knows exactly what he is getting into this week when his Mount Olive baseball team takes the field for the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional.

He's been there, done that.

"I don't know that this team is much different from last year's," Lancaster said. "Last season we hit more home runs, but this year we seem to have better balance. Hopefully we can get things done on the weekend."

Over the course of 30 years, Lancaster has been a part of baseball in a variety of capacities.

After completing his collegiate playing career, Lancaster took to the bench as a high school coach at Eastern Wayne and then as a graduate assistant at Appalachian State University. Following the brief stint with the Mountaineers, Lancaster returned to Eastern Wayne for a second tour with the Warriors where he honed his coaching techniques.

"I am not sure that I have necessarily learned a lot," Lancaster joked during Tuesday's practice. "I don't think baseball is a game that you have to spend time learning. If you are around the game, and you enjoy it, then it just comes naturally."

While on the pine in New Hope, Lancaster amassed a record of 105-49 over the course of six seasons. He also led the Warriors to their last state championship in 1986.

The highly successful head coach made his way to the southern part of Wayne County a year later when he took over as the manager at Mount Olive. In the 22 seasons since, a lot has changed within the Trojan program, from facilities to recruiting.

"We try to bring in the best players we can and coach to their strengths," said Lancaster. "We used to try to get a couple of big hitters and a couple guys that could run, and make it work. Now we have the flexibility to coach the players that are here to their abilities."

Another big difference between 1987 and now is the attention the Trojans are garnering. From stories in newspapers, to television cameras at this week's regional tournament practices and a profile on ESPN's "NCAA OnCampus," the Trojans have finally reached the spotlight.

"All of the media stuff this week has been great," Lancaster said. "I really am pulling for this group of guys, not just as their coach, but also as someone who wants to see them succeed on the big stage."

Lancaster's son Jesse patrols the outfield for the Trojans, a fact that makes the team's accomplishments even more special.

"Having Jesse here and watching him evolve from being primarily a pitcher as a freshman to an outfielder this season has been interesting," Lancaster said. "He was hitting the ball as well as anyone a week before the season started so we figured we'd give him a shot, and it worked out."

With more than 700 wins to his credit on the college level, Lancaster could pat himself on the back, but that's not his style. At Mount Olive, the players get all of the credit -- on and off the field.

"This year has been phenomenal for our guys in the classroom, too," said Lancaster. "We haven't had a single off the field issue the entire school year, and that says a lot about these young men."

"So much of this game is mental. A big part of being successful is wanting to have the bat in your hand at the key moment, and I think all of our guys in the lineup feel like they can come through."

The journey begins Thursday. No. 1-ranked Mount Olive (49-5 overall) faces sixth-seeded and Conference Carolinas nemesis Erskine (S.C.) at 7 p.m.