CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Last week Charlotte Christian grad Jackson Kowar was on the mound for the Gators as they clinched their first ever College World Series.
“I didn’t really know how I was going to celebrate or anything,” Kowar said. “I ended up just throwing everything I had in the air and going crazy.”
Kowar was never supposed to be there, at least not as a Gator. Just two years ago, he was days away from moving to Clemson, South Carolina to be a Tiger.
“I had just graduated high school,” Kowar said. I was about to leave for summer school, and their coach ended up getting fired.”
Kowar committed to Coach Jack Leggett and the Tigers as a sophomore in high school, but with the coaching change he was granted a release. Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan spent eight years as an assistant to Leggett at Clemson, so Gainesville was a logical landing spot.
“Florida kind of got killed by the draft with their high schoolers in my class,” Kowar said. “They lost four or five pitchers. So I was able to sneak a spot there, and it worked out pretty good.”
Kowar’s promising freshman season with the Gators was cut short by a collapsed lung. He watched his team go 0-2 in Omaha. This season, as a sophomore, Kowar returned stronger than ever. He went 12-0 as a Sunday starter.
“I was lucky enough to start on the weekends, and play at some really cool SEC fields which was really exciting,” Kowar said.
A starter all season, it was Kowar who Florida turned to late in a one-run game to preserve a win, and the college world series.
“I came in the eighth inning, and I was just kind of out there pitching,” Kowar said. “Then I sat down, and I was like ‘I have three more outs and we’re going to win the College World Series’.“
Florida tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Kowar cruised through the ninth, and recorded the last out for a national title.
“That’s a pretty cool moment, and I’ll be on the videos forever. That’s pretty special, and something I don’t take for granted.”