Young Craig Lewis sets high goals in fastpitch softball

Written by Bob on November 10th, 2014
The Lewis family after winning the 2014 ASA Boys' 16-Under Fastpitch National Championship. From left, wife and mother, Deanna Lewis, Jacob, 13, Craig, 15, Brian, 10, and Eric Lewis. Contributed Photo.

The Lewis family after winning the 2014 ASA Boys’ 16-Under Fastpitch National Championship. From left, wife and mother, Deanna Lewis, Jacob, 13, Craig, 15, Brian, 10, and Eric Lewis. Contributed Photo.

WINSTON, Mo. – When he was a little tyke of 3 or 4, Craig Lewis was already wind-milling a softball and tagging along with his dad from one Missouri ball field to the next.

By first grade, he knew how to keep a scorebook.

And now at 15?

Well, let’s just say he’s too valuable on the field to have sitting on the bench scoring the game.

    TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL HONORS

Craig Lewis had himself quite a high school fastpitch season this year. He pitched the defending champion Winston Redbirds to third place in the Missouri State High School Boys Fastpitch Tournament. This coming on the heels of pitching the Redbirds to the Harrison-Daviess-Caldwell (HDC) Conference championship (6-0, 16-2).

And he was a unanimous pick on the all-conference and all-state teams. Pretty good accomplishments for a 15-year-old sophomore, who had a 14-2 record. And just imagine the grief he’s going to give the competition with two more varsity years left.

So how did all this success come about?

No need to look any further than Craig’s dad, Eric Lewis.

“I grew up watching my dad pitch and I wanted to be just like him,” Craig said. He taught me to pitch and be mentally tough and not cave under pressure. He was always setting up games and taking my (boys’) team places to play, so we could be good in the future. He is the reason I have gotten into pitching.”

Craig Lewis, 15, and dad, Eric Lewis, after winning the 2014 HDC Tournament Championship. Contributed Photo

Craig Lewis, 15, and dad, Eric Lewis, after winning the 2014 HDC Tournament Championship. Contributed Photo

    LEWIS FASTPITCH ANCESTRY

But digging a little further into the Lewis fastpitch history finds that the sport started with Craig’s grandfather, Nylen Lewis, who was a good pitcher in the Navy and Missouri in the 1950s.

Nylen brought his sons Andy and Eric into the sport. Eric was pitching at 14, and he in turn passed on the tradition to his sons Craig, Jacob, 13, and Brian, 10. Soon enough, Eric started a boys’ team for his sons. Success quickly followed as the Winston Royals have won five Amateur Softball Association (ASA) boys’ national championships since 2008. Including a 2014 national title in the ASA 16-under division.

    MIXING IT UP WITH THE VETS

And to make his boys more competitive in the HDC Conference, Eric – who coaches the team and is the school athletic director – brought them on to his men’s team that plays in the St. Joseph City League and in various weekend tournaments.

“Being around competitive men’s (league’s and tournaments) has helped give Craig an edge playing against high school opponents,” said Eric Lewis. “The biggest gain has probably been in confidence while hitting. The young men that face summer men’s pitching go to the high school plate with quite an advantage.”

For Craig, the challenge of pitching against men is greater than facing high school players. And therein lies the basic tenet for accelerating a pitcher’s know-how, he believes.

“Pitching against the men has helped me a lot by making me locate my pitches better,” he said, “because they are able to hit pitches that most high school players aren’t able to.”

    EXPANDS HIS SPORTS HORIZON

Lewis professes a fondness for fastpitch. But he’s not just a one-sport athlete.

As a freshman last season, he helped the Redbirds win a conference basketball Co-championship (7-1) and finish 24-4, along with advancing to the district finals. The track and field team also claimed a conference title.

And like all competitive athletes, he’s set some lofty goals for the coming season.

    AIMING FOR RED, WHITE AND BLUE

He’s shooting for the Redbirds to make the state basketball tournament; he’s aiming for HDC Conference and state tournament fastpitch titles. And of course he wants to have a successful summer season playing on his dad’s men’s team.

But a couple of goals stand even higher.

“The biggest goal I have is to play on the (USA) Junior Men’s National Team in a few years,” he said. “And I also want to play on the USA (men’s) National Team in tournaments all over the world.”

Somehow I believe we shall see Craig Lewis achieve his goals.

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. John Younger says:

    Nice article Bob!
    I have had the pleasure of playing with Nylen,Andy,Sean,Eric,Craig & Jacob. Hope to play with Brian soon. They are a great family & very good for fastpitch!
    John

  2. Bob says:

    Thanks John, great to hear from you and again a “tip of the hat” for your effort along with that of the Blakely brothers for keeping fastpitch alive in St. Joseph, MO. Hope to see you at next year’s NAFA WS.

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