03/01/13 — BASEBALL TAB -- Trojans' trio of assistants valuable to Lancaster

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BASEBALL TAB -- Trojans' trio of assistants valuable to Lancaster

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 1, 2013 1:47 PM

Put any successful collegiate program under a microscope and you'll discover assistant coaches are more valuable than the average person realizes.

It's definitely true at Mount Olive College.

Head baseball coach Carl Lancaster has fewer headaches to deal with these days and has a quality staff that undeniably gets the job done in an efficient manner. Assistant coaches Rob Watt, Jesse Lancaster and Jason Sherrer share his drive to succeed and they make sure the players understand what is required of them -- on and off the field -- when they put on a Trojan uniform.

Watt is in his ninth season on staff.

Jesse and Sherrer played on Mount Olive's 2008 national championship team before stepping into assistant roles in recent seasons.

"I was looking at the bios (online) recently, just flipping through ... bored," said Lancaster, who has 904 career wins. "I was thinking about Jason and Jesse, both. We've got two guys here who have had success on and off the field, and totally understand the degree of determination and effort we require of our guys. We have to recruit people who play with a passion or they're not going to be happy because we're not going to like them."

Jesse spent one season at East Carolina before returning to his alma mater. He worked with head baseball coach Billy Godwin and handled the summer camps.

Now, he's moved into the recruiting coordinator role for the Trojans.

"He knows if he's going to go to a major university, that's something (he needs)," coach Lancaster said. "He finds them, brings them in here, I work them out and then close the deal. I'm doing a little recruiting as well once he gets the initial stuff done.

"(We) never miss a day making a phone call to a recruit. Recruiting is like shaving, if you don't shave every day, you get a little scraggly. You don't want that to happen to your program."

Sherrer is a former catcher turned pitching coach, and is starting to leave his stamp on the program. Not only has he kept the Trojans' hurlers ranked among the league's and nation's best, he works daily to keep Scarborough Field in tip-top shape since the team practices and plays on it.

"He's adamant about our facilities looking nice," Lancaster said. "It's unbelievable how much time he's out there working on that field. Jason was not comfortable with himself as much as we were comfortable with him, initially.

"He and Tom Layne played together. He's worked with Tom and if he's ever had issues, concerns or questions, he would call Tom. I think now he's very comfortable with what he's doing."

Watt has always been comfortable.

He's helped keep Mount Olive among the national statistical leaders during his tenure in the dugout, and 2012 was no exception. All-American Geno Escalante emerged the D-II national champion with 98 hits for the season. Fellow All-American and Major League draftee Jacob Rogers claimed titles in runs scored per game (1.59) and total runs (86).

The Trojans were team champions in runs per game (10.59) and total runs (572).

"Rob is extremely good, intense ... probably way more than I am. I do get intense occasionally," grinned Lancaster. "Rob is extremely happy in the role that he is in. He really loves to go to that cage every day and work with those hitters."

Mount Olive has finished the season ranked among the top 12 in the last three Collegiate Baseball Magazine Division II polls, including a No. 2 ranking behind eventual national champ West Florida in 2011.

The Trojans have captured 22 Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament championships combined since 1996, and earned 11 trips to the NCAA tournament during that stretch. A total of 27 former players have advanced to the professional ranks and seven remain active today.