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Big timers

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Shelbyville seniors Damon Lux, left, and Lucas Stieneker, right, have been named The Shelbyville News Baseball Co-Players of the Year. Lux will continue his career at Duke University, while Stieneker will play at the University of Indianapolis.
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SHS senior Damon Lux throws a ball from the outfield in a game this past season.
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SHS senior Lucas Stieneker connects with a ball in a game this past season.

By KATRINA BRANSON - kbranson@shelbynews.com

Damon Lux and Lucas Stieneker are very familiar with the game of baseball. Lux began playing Babe Ruth ball at the age of four, as did Stieneker. They both immediately fell in love.

Fast forward to their senior year of high school and not much has changed. They still have an undeniable love for the game – something that is evident when you speak to them.

Lux finished his senior year hitting .430 with 24 RBIs. He added eight doubles and a team-high seven home runs. Lux also had a triple this season. On the mound, he led the team with 34 strikeouts, finishing with a 3.61 ERA. 

For Stieneker, his season was just as impressive. The first baseman, known as “meat” by his teammates, finished batting .507 with 34 RBIs. He added 10 doubles and four home runs.

For their accomplishments in their final season, the duo has been named The Shelbyville News Baseball Co-Players of the Year.

The pair also made the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team at the end of the season. 

Looking back, though, both Lux and Stieneker had a role model growing up, which helped mend them into the players they are today. 

“I always looked up to Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia, because they're work ethic and just how they carry themselves on the field,” said Lux. “They weren't these cocky players – they were just quality guys that played the game the right way.”

For Stieneker, a big role model would be his father, Bob – the man who got him started with baseball and helped him grown on and off the field. After that he looks up to Anthony Rizzo – a first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, who overcame cancer to eventually become a member of a World Series championship team.

As for SHS this season, the Golden Bears finished 13-11 and 6-8 in conference play under first-year head coach Royce Carlton.

“I think he did extremely well in his first year of coaching,” said Stieneker. “I think with what he had and in the time that he had it – he did really well. I think he can build off of this year, and I think big things are coming for the Shelbyville baseball program – I think he'll lead them that way.”

As for the future, Lux is committed to play at Duke University

“A lot of it was because of the playing situation,” he said. “They don't over recruit. When I get there, they'll probably have five outfielders. So I'll have a chance at a starting job. The campus was awesome, and the coaching staff was fantastic.”

The Blue Devils are impressive on the field, too, as they continue their memorable season. With a chance at advancing to the College World Series, Duke is tied 1-1 in a three-game series with Texas Tech at the Lubbock Super Regional in Texas. The final game was Monday at 4 p.m. 

Meanwhile for Stieneker, SHS fans can expect to see him playing at the University of Indianapolis next season – a college that was his first choice. The Greyhounds finished their season 15-12 at home and 11-8 away.

“Me and the coach clicked really well when we spoke,” he said. “The senior at first base just graduated, so the spot is open. So now as a freshman, I have a chance to go in and compete for a spot.”

As the duo reflected on the season, they both admitted their favorite moment was sweeping Greenfield-Central in a doubleheader.

“We had so much fun,” said Lux. “There was so much energy. No one was down and no one was upset even if we made a mistake or struck out – everybody was up in the dugout having a good time.”

“Just as a team we clicked that night,” added Stieneker. “We beat a really good team, and we had fun. We finally had that moment as a team where we were just all there.”

The pair also admitted that losing the team's No. 1 pitcher in Tyce Taylor was a tough pill to swallow at the beginning of the season.

“I think this season we definitely grew from a year ago,” said Lux. "It was definitely tough losing Tyce, though. It hurt but even having a winning season without him – I think we faced a lot of adversity this season. When adversity came, we didn't shy away from it.”

Stieneker said the injury got the team in gear.

“We went in hoping to win like 20 games. Then we lost Tyce,” he said. “Our ace – our guy that can throw seven or even eight innings if needed. That really hurt us. It put us down for the next six games. Then we finally clicked and realized he wasn't coming back. After that, we stopped playing the me game and started playing for one another.”

As Lux and Stieneker take the summer to prepare for their upcoming roles at Duke and UIndy, they leave the younger players with some advice.

“You have to work at it,” said Lux. “Success isn't going to come by just showing up to practice. You absolutely have to work for it – extra work is essential. Ask advice from coaches and have a strong mental game.”

“Trust the five guys on the coaching staff that they have around you – they know what they're doing,” added Stieneker. “Be coachable and do what they tell you. You have to be mentally tough – baseball is a failure sport. Always keep your head high.”

Katrina Branson is a Sports writer for The Shelbyville News. Follow Katrina on Twitter @k_b527.