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Effort and determination ensure baseball success for Lewis

Coming down the stretch of his fourth and final season with Lion baseball, Chris Lewis has compiled a lot of great achievements and memories; but he’ll never suggest it’s been an easy ride.
While the senior has been fortunate to avoid some of the injury woes that have struck his teammates over the years – crediting coach Kevin Kalinec’s emphasis on his conditioning for that “luck” – Lewis has dealt with various slumps on the mound and at the plate that come with the game, emerging to regain his vintage form each time.
“I don’t know of a more challenging game – on the physical side, but more so the mental side as far as challenging yourself to get better everyday,” Lewis said.
“When you’re tired, there has to be motivation to keep going. This season I think about how if I don’t work hard now, I won’t be ready [to succeed] in college [baseball].”
Lewis didn’t take long to make the varsity jump as a freshman, and he’s having a tremendous senior season. Overall, Chris is first on the Lions in batting average (.443) and tied for first in both doubles (11) and triples (two). Lewis ranks second in runs scored (35), hits (39), slugging percentage (.648) and on-base percentage (.520).
He’s tied for third on the team with one homer and 19 RBIs. In district play, however, Lewis took his game to another level.
Tops with a .465 batting average, Lewis also led Ennis during 15-4A action in hits, triples, RBIs, slugging percentage and average with runners in scoring position (.571). He tied for the team lead with a homer and ranked second in on-base percentage. Long story short, Chris was great during the most important time of the regular season.
It all seemed to come together for him during a 7-5 home loss to Midlothian. At the plate, Lewis drilled a homer, a triple, a single and three RBIs. He struck out the side in a seventh-inning relief appearance and looked better than he had on the hill all season in doing so.
“Something just clicked for me on the mound against Midlothian and that was the best command I’d had all year,” he said.
“I’d somehow gotten out of my correct motion, lost command and velocity. I went back to the basics – step and throw; luckily it came back around.
“I’d been struggling with my timing [at the plate] much of this season and was finally able to adjust. I just focused on making contact.”
As for his pitching stats, Chris is 5-1 on the season with one save, a 2.60 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 62 innings of work. He’s second on the team to Weston Montgomery in each category. Lewis would be the first to admit it hasn’t been his best pitching season, but he’s in a good place heading to the playoffs.
“I didn’t want to end my high-school career struggling as a senior; I had to pick it up,” he said.
A lot of Lewis’ development on the diamond occurred from age 12-14 as he and Montgomery played select ball together on the Arlington Cobras. Chris’ dad Randy Lewis was the pitching coach on the team.
“My first select-league coach was Edward Pena on the Cobras,” Chris said.
“He taught me how to deal with frustration when things don’t go your way, which helped me get rid of the bad temper I used to have.”
With three full seasons under his belt with the Lions, Chris earned First-Team Pitcher honors as a freshman, Sophomore of the Year honors and then First-Team Pitcher honors again as a junior in 15-4A.
Lewis threw no-hitters against Mabank as a sophomore, versus Terrell as a junior and against Alvarado this season.
His blanking of Terrell was especially impressive – not so much for the nine strikeouts, but the way Chris was able to pick off all three baserunners (two walks, hit by pitch).
Back in 2005, Lewis’ three-inning relief appearance as a freshman in Athens saw him hold the Hornets in check as Ennis rallied with its playoff hopes hanging in the balance. In ’07, he got into a pitching duel with former Corsicana ace Stayton Thomas, tossing a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts over nine innings.
“The game vs. Athens as a freshman was really special because we had to have the win; it was one of the most fun and challenging games I’ve ever played in,” Lewis said.
“Our games at Ameriquest [Field the past two years] were very special too.”
Chris’ favorite major-league team is the Braves and his favorite player is Atlanta ace John Smoltz.
“Smoltz has reinvented himself through the years and come up with new pitches to remain successful, which I’ve had to do year-to-year,” Lewis said.
The senior certainly has a thank-you list regarding his baseball success beyond the aforementioned Pena.
“I have to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play baseball,” Lewis said.
“Coach K (Kalinec) really taught me how to pitch, instead of just throwing. A lot of it is mental and he helped me learn how to get inside a hitter’s head. [Kalinec] started letting me call my own pitches as a sophomore, which was a confidence booster.
“All of my coaches and teammates along the way have been great. My parents [Randy and Deliah Lewis] were there to help me with everything I ever needed and my brother [Jon] helped so much just by playing catch in the backyard. The support of your family means everything.”
With Ennis set to open bi-district action against Brownwood in a couple of days, Chris can’t wait to take the field.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun in the playoffs,” he said.
“We’ve never stayed in a hotel as a team, but hopefully me, Rusty [Collins] and Weston can keep everybody focused on what we’re [in Georgetown] to do. We [as seniors] definitely want to play well and go out on top.”
Looking further down the road, Chris will play baseball for North Central Texas College in Gainesville next year.
“It’s scary to think about graduation nearly here and moving on to college, but I’m ready for it,” he said.
Will college baseball and the overall life transition be a piece of cake? It’s more likely to be a difficult journey with adversity around every corner, but Chris Lewis has been working his way through trying times season in and season out.

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Posted by on Apr 30 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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