Coach John Pawlowski
A 16-year head coaching veteran with 545 wins under his belt and 11 NCAA Tournament trips in his 24-year collegiate coaching career, John Pawlowski will be entering his third season on The Hill as WKU's head baseball coach in 2018 after being hired in the summer of 2015.
Pawlowski, who won over 60 percent of his games in 14 seasons as head coach at College of Charleston (2000-08) and Auburn (2009-13), has developed 82 MLB Draft selections (50 pitchers) during his 24-year coaching tenure at the collegiate level, won 545 games (545-387 overall) and appeared in 11 NCAA Regionals.
Things got off to a fast start during his WKU tenure as he led the Hilltoppers to wins in seven of his first eight games in charge in 2016, which was the best start for the Tops since the 1985 campaign. By winning six of his first seven contests, he joined M.A. Leiper and Roy Manchester, who were dual head coaches in the 1913 season, as the only WKU coaches to achieve the feat.
The start was highlighted by the tournament victories in the Bulldog Invitational in Athens, Georgia, where the Hilltoppers racked up wins over Cincinnati, South Alabama and host Georgia. After the tournament, WKU received votes in the NCBWA poll which marked the first time WKU was ranked in any poll since May of the 2010 season. A tough schedule that ended with the top three teams in C-USA didn't allow the Tops to end on a high note as Pawlowski's first season finished with a 24-30 record.
Pawlowski turned College of Charleston into a Southern Conference powerhouse during his nine seasons as the Cougars' skipper, which included six seasons with at least 36 wins, three NCAA Regional appearances along with a Super Regional appearance in 2006. The three-time SoCon Coach of the Year finished his tenure in Charleston with a record of 338-192-1, including a 2004-07 window in which the Cougars established a SoCon record for most wins in a four-year span (180-67; .729).
He was named the head coach at Auburn in 2009 after his run of dominance at CofC, and he guided the Tigers to a (167-127) record in five seasons of competition in the nation's toughest league, the Southeastern Conference. Auburn won at least 31 games in four of Pawlowski's five seasons, which was highlighted by a 43-21 campaign in 2010 where the Tigers hosted a NCAA Regional. The Tigers won the SEC West in 2010, marking their first division title since 1995.
"I'm very excited to be here and be part of Western Kentucky University and part of the family. I'm looking forward to having many great moments here," said Pawlowski.
"We need to win. That's our goal. We're going to play hard. I want somebody, when they walk into the stadium, whether they walk in in the sixth inning or the seventh inning without knowing what that scoreboard reads, I want them to know our kids are playing hard. Whether we're up by two, whether we're down by two, regardless of the score. We're going to play hard. All 27 outs. Whatever it takes, regardless of the score."
Most recently, the former Chicago White Sox pitcher served as the associate head coach and pitching coach at San Diego State (2014-15), helping guide the Aztecs to consecutive NCAA Regional appearances while developing one of the finest pitching staffs in the Mountain West Conference. Under Pawlowski's tutelage, the 2014 Aztec pitching staff boasted its lowest ERA (3.71) since 1995 while the 2015 SDSU starting rotation sported an ERA of 3.38 with 266 strikeouts in 274.1 innings pitched.
San Diego State concluded it 2015 season with a record of 41-23, registering back-to-back 40-win seasons for the first time since 1990-91.Pitcher Bubba Derby was one of three Aztecs named to NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team.
The Aztecs won 42 games in 2014, the most since 2002 and the pitching staff ERA was 3.71, lowest since 1995.
When SDSU hired Pawlowski in 2013, Head Coach Tony Gwynn stated "John brings a wealth of experience with him to the position of pitching coach at San Diego State. We had a number of outstanding applicants and we feel John's the best fit for what we're trying to accomplish in our program. His experience as a pitcher at both the collegiate and Major League levels along with his time as a collegiate coach with nationally recognized programs makes him a valuable asset to our team."
Previously, John's five seasons at Auburn made him the longest-tenured coach at Auburn since Hal Baird's 16-year run and the fourth-longest tenured overall. In 2013 he became the third-most winningest coach in Auburn history in terms of wins.
In five seasons at Auburn, the 14-year head-coaching veteran guided the team to a 167-127 (.568) record (505-318 overall) and took the program from six consecutive fifth- or sixth-place finishes in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division to a 2010 Division Championship, its first since 1995, and a 2010 NCAA Regional Host, winning 43 games during the remarkable and memorable 2010 campaign.
In addition, Pawlowski's ability to guide the team to four consecutive SEC Tournament appearances from 2010 through 2013 marked the first time Auburn had appeared in the conference tournament in consecutive seasons since it went for seven straight years from 1997-2003. It also moved Auburn into a rare category among SEC teams as it was one of only five Southeastern Conference programs to play in the conference tournament in each season from 2010-13 and one of just two from the SEC West.
Under Pawlowski's direction Auburn turned into a professional development factory as 25 players have been drafted out of Auburn over the past four seasons, the most in a four-year period in Auburn history. Thirteen of those draft picks had never before been selected and six went in the first 10 rounds. Auburn as a program has now had at least one player selected in 38 consecutive seasons, tied for the second-longest such streak in the SEC.
Auburn's 43 wins in 2010 were the seventh-most in school history and along with the wins came numerous accolades for the program, including the SEC Player of the Year (Hunter Morris), six All-SEC selections, four of which were on the First Team (Morris, Brian Fletcher, Trent Mummey and Kevin Patterson), and two All-America choices (Morris and Fletcher). At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Pawlowski's group saw a national-best and SEC and school record-tying 11 players get drafted, including nine in the first 18 rounds.
Much of Auburn success in 2010 was due to a rejuvenation of an Auburn lineup that set school records for batting average (.348), home runs (131) and slugging percentage (.591), with the latter two leading the nation. Auburn's 816 hits, 584 runs and its 9.1 runs per game also finished among the nation's top 10.
Over a year into the job as the head coach at Auburn, the hiring of Pawlowski in June of 2008 had already begun to pay dividends in 2009. With a roster full of talent but void of previous success at the collegiate level, Auburn's 31 wins in 2009 were the third most for an Auburn coach in his debut season on the Plains. The difference in 2009 was the pop in the lineup as Auburn hit 103 home runs a year after hitting just 58 with two-thirds of the starting lineup from 2008 back for 2009.
At the conclusion of the season, four Auburn players had their name called in the Major League Baseball Draft, two of them for the first time, including fifth-round pick Joseph Sanders (Colorado).
A head coaching veteran and another branch off former Clemson head coach Jack Leggett's coaching tree, Pawlowski brings with him a pedigree that includes a seven-year professional baseball career and stops on both Leggett's and Pat Murphy's coaching staffs at perennial powers Clemson and Arizona State, respectively, before his nine-year run at the College of Charleston. During his stay at CofC, he guided the Cougars to a .637 winning percentage, two regular season conference championships and three straight NCAA Tournament berths from 2004-06.
A three-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year (2004, 2005 & 2007), Pawlowski turned a regionally successful program at the College of Charleston into a nationally recognized program to be feared as the Cougars twice established school records for wins in a season and advanced into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in CofC history in 2004, an accomplishment that the Cougars repeated in 2005 and 2006. By the end of the 2006 season the College of Charleston was clearly on the map as it went to SEC Champion Kentucky's home field and went 3-0 to win the NCAA Regional and advance to the Atlanta Super Regional. The Cougars finished the year ranked as high as 12th nationally.
In nine years at the College of Charleston, Pawlowski guided the Cougars to a 338-192-1 mark overall and a 170-86-1 (.663) record in Southern Conference play. He also helped develop his players into 42 all-conference honors, four academic All-America honors, three SoCon Pitchers of the Year and two SoCon Players of the Year accolades. Additionally, he had 17 all-America honors bestowed upon his players since 2001.
Pawlowski's run of success at Charleston can be aptly defined by his 180-67 (.729) record from 2004-07, which established school and conference records for most wins in a four-year span, which includes a 53-year history of the Southern Conference, and three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament along with two regular-season conference championships.
The 2006 season has been hailed as the finest in College of Charleston history as the team posted a 46-17 overall record and a 20-7 record in Southern Conference play, winning the school's first Southern Conference Tournament title to go along with the unprecedented success in the NCAA Tournament, but his success in 2004, establishing school records for overall (47) and conference (25) wins and 2005 when he topped both of those accomplishments (48-15 overall, 27-3 SoCon) speak to the foundation that he was able to build at the South Carolina school.
From 2004-06, Pawlowski mentored three straight SoCon Pithcers of the Year in Nich Chigges (2006), Brett Harker (2005) and Ryan Johnson (2004).
Prior to his first head coaching stint at College of Charleston, Pawlowski served the 1999 season as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator under Pat Murphy at Pac-12 power Arizona State. Before his one-year journey with the Sun Devils, Pawlowski spent five years as an assistant at Clemson (1994-98) under college baseball icon Jack Leggett. Pawlowski helped guide the Tigers to five-straight NCAA Regionals and back-to-back College World Series appearances in 1995 and 1996.
While an assistant at Clemson, Pawlowski's staff led the country in earned run average in 1996 with a staff that featured the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in that year's MLB Draft in Kris Benson and Billy Koch. In his five years at Clemson, the Tigers had 15 pitchers drafted and their recruiting classes ranked in the top 10 nationally each year.
As a player at Clemson from 1983-85, Pawlowski finished his Tiger career with a 21-12 pitching record and a 3.89 ERA over 54 games. He made 30 career starts working 240.1 innings with eight complete games, three shutouts and five saves.
Pawlowski was the sixth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1985 and made his major league debut in September of 1987. After playing more than seven years for the Chicago White Sox (1986-91), California Angels (1991-92) and Baltimore Orioles (1992) organizations, Pawlowski returned to Clemson to begin his coaching career and complete his degree.Pawlowski received his bachelor's degree in Industrial Education from Clemson University in May of 1996. The Johnson City, N.Y. native graduated from Seton Catholic Central in Binghamton, N.Y. in 1982. In 2007, he was inducted into the Upstate New York Section IV Hall of Fame. Pawlowski has three daughters, Christine, Mary Louise and Jenny Caroline.
The Pawlowski File
Born: September 6, 1963
Hometown: Johnson City, N.Y.
High School: Seton Catholic Central
College: Clemson, 1983-85; Industrial Education (1996)
Children: Christine, Mary Louise and Jenny Caroline
2014-15: San Diego State Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach (2 Years; 2 NCAA Tournaments)
2009-13: Auburn Head Coach (5 Years) -- 167-126 Record; 1 NCAA Tournament
2000-08: College of Charleston Head Coach (9 Years) -- 338-192 Record; 3 NCAA Tournaments (1 Super Regional); 3 Coach of the Year Honors
1999: Arizona State Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator (1 Year)
1994-98: Clemson Assistant Coach (5 Years; 5 NCAA Tournaments; 1995, 1996 CWS)
1992: Baltimore Orioles organization
1991-92: California Angels organization
1986-91: Chicago White Sox organization (87-88 major league stints)
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Brett Gardner (New York Yankees outfielder, 3rd round draft pick out of College of Charleston in 2005)
"Coach Pawlowski really took our program to new heights during my four years in school. His leadership and knowledge of the game helped me achieve my dream of playing in the Major Leagues, and he's sure to be an asset to the baseball program and the athletes that are going to be under his guidance at Western Kentucky University. I couldn't be happier for Coach Pawlowski."
Pat Murphy (Former Arizona State Head Coach and current San Diego Padres Manager)
"I think John is a proven head coach, but he is an even finer man than he is coach. He is going to run a total program where players get a great experience, the university knows they get a strong link to the athletic department, and they can depend on John through thick and thin."
Mark Martinez (San Diego State Head Coach)
"We appreciate all that Coach Pawlowski did for us during his two seasons as the pitching coach at San Diego State. We won back-to-back Mountain West Championships and advanced to the NCAA Regionals each of the past two years and he was an integral part of making that happen. Western Kentucky is getting one of the better coaches in the country. Congratulations to him on a well-deserved head coaching position."
[Martinez on Pawlowski during introductory press conference in 2014]
"When I sat down with (Jim) Sterk, one of our first priorities was to keep John Pawlowski in our program. It was a huge addition for us last year. He's one of the top, if not the No. 1 pitching coach in the country. He's been a head coach at two different schools, he just happened to be available at the time. That was one of our main focuses was to keep him here. We're very fortunate to have (him)."
John Pawlowski - Experience
He is 1 of 13 former Major
League Players serving as
head coach in NCAA
Division I baseball.
Overall record as a
Head Coach in 14 years is
505-318 (36 wins per year)
He served two seasons as
the Pitching coach at
San Diego State University
He spent 5 years as the
Head Coach at Auburn
University averaging 33
wins per season while
becoming the 3rd winningest
coach in school history.
Won the SEC West and
hosted NCAA Regional
in 2010. Was 1 of only 5
teams to play in the SEC
Tournament for 4 consecutive
He spent 9 years at College of Charleston
winning 4 conference
titles, made 3 regional
appearances, and 1
appearance. CofC Hall
of Fame member. He
was named Southern
Conference Coach of
the Year 3 times.
Recognized by Nike Camps
as a top pitching instructor
and contracted to conduct
specialized pitcher/catcher camps and showcases throughout US from 2003-2006.
Former Arizona State
Assistant Coach and
Pitching Coach. Also
pitched at Clemson 1983-1985
Made two College World
Series trips as assistant
John is an avid runner
and to date has
completed 15 marathons
in 11 different states
and is preparing
for his 16th later this year.
24 years Division I
in the SEC, ACC,
PAC-10, Mountain West,
and Southern Conferences.
John is a co-founder of
Throw90, a leading edge
company that was
founded in 1997 to
offer baseball camps,
clinics, and showcases
throughout the US.
Hall of Fame Member
Seton Catholic Central High School
NY State Athletics - Section IV
College of Charleston