Mowery powering Cavalry with red-hot bat
Throughout his baseball career at Lansing High School, Matt Mowery never was the focal point of the Lions' offense.
As a pitcher, designated hitter and occasional first baseman, Mowery was a solid role player who occasionally offered a surprise spark in the lineup.
Everything changed this summer, however. The 2005 LHS grad has been a mainstay in the heart of the Lansing Cavalry's batting order. He has become an everyday player at first base, as well as an occasional pitcher.
Most important for Mowery, he has become one of Lansing's most reliable bats.
"It's so funny how things happen," Cavalry coach Jake Hanson said. "If Curtis Burgoon decides to play, Matt maybe plays half-time at best. He probably would get some time (as a designated hitter). He's done a great job playing first base, but if some things are different then he doesn't even get a chance. I'm just real thankful he's been given a chance."
Burgoon was Lansing High's starting first baseman for the past two years. He also was a starter for the Cavalry. Nagging pain from a shoulder injury kept him from playing summer ball, and it opened a door for Mowery.
Mowery took over duties as the Cavalry's everyday first baseman, though he still pitches at least once a week. Hanson said Mowery has taken great strides at first base this summer, but the most noticeable improvement has been with his bat.
After going 1-for-4 at the plate in his first game of the summer, Mowery went on a tear. He smashed a two-run homer that sparked Lansing's 6-4 victory over Ozawkie on June 15. He then went 8-for-12 at the plate during a four-game stretch at the Lawrence Tournament.
Mowery's hot streak continued until the Burlington Tournament, but when his bat went quiet, so did the Cavalry.
"When we needed it, I wasn't doing so hot," Mowery said. "So I told myself, 'we've only got about six more games until Zone. You need to (pick it up).' Coach said he needed me, so I told him 'I'll be there. I'll step up. You can count on me coach.'"
Since then, Mowery has delivered.
He crushed a two-run homer and ripped three consecutive doubles that sparked Lansing's doubleheader sweep of Basehor on July 6. The next night he homered again in a 7-4 victory against Royal Valley.
Cavalry catcher Lonnie Hansen said Mowery's power surge at the plate made a big difference in the way the rest of the team approached batting.
"If you get one big stick hitting in the batting order, you get another and it spreads," he said. "It's contagious hitting the ball."
Mowery said he planned to attend either Kansas City Kansas Community College or Johnson County Community College in the fall. He said he aspired to play baseball at either school.
"That would make my whole summer worth it," he said of the possibility of getting to play college baseball.
Hanson said he hopes college coaches have taken notice of what Mowery has accomplished this summer.
"I think Matt's showing some people that he's the real deal," Hanson said. "I really hope someone will take a look at him because I think he's a guy that, if he's playing baseball year-round and getting his body in shape and doing nothing but baseball from the time he goes to school to the summer, he's definitely worth a look."