Twins set to lead lapel baseball

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LAPEL — They may be fraternal twins, but one look at Dustin and Dylan Dowden might cause one to dispute that.

Over the years, they have had some fun with their nearly identical appearance, but when it comes to their athletic careers, baseball is serious business.

In some ways, you could say it is a family business.

Dustin and Dylan are two of just six seniors on this year’s edition of the Lapel Bulldogs baseball team. Both bring different skillsets to the ballclub. Dylan is one of the team’s strongest returning offensive players, after hitting .258 last season, while Dustin brings a strong right arm that led the Bulldog pitching staff in appearances and innings pitched in 2016. What they bring in common is a strong work ethic, leadership and a desire to win.

“We have a really positive mindset this year,” Dylan said. “We lost a good amount of hitters last year; I want to try to fill their shoes.”

“I think our pitching staff is really strong this year,” Dustin added. “We didn’t lose much of anybody. I just think that’s one of our strong suits, because a lot of us are going to find the strike zone better and throw harder.”

Being twins has had its advantages, they say. But, at the same time, each wants to be his own person.

“Always having someone you can practice with in the yard versus having to call someone over,” Dustin said. “Or hit off the tee with.”

“One of the disadvantages is you’re always kind of forced to do what the other one does,” Dylan said. “We’re always there for each other, but there are times when you just want to say, ‘Get away.’”

They have had fun with it over the years. They said they switched classes during their junior year, and it was more than half an hour before the teachers noticed. And they’ve had some fun at their coaches’ expense in the past, but there is one place to draw the line.

Never try to trick the girlfriends.

“No way,” Dylan said. “One time she thought I was him. She walked up to me and said, ‘Hey. Oh, you’re not Dustin.’”

The Dowden twins are fiercely competitive, something that shows up on the field and off.

“There’s a church just down our road; we go down there and play basketball all the time,” Dustin said. “We guard each other.”

“It’s not always involved with sports, either,” Dylan added. “We have other competitions around the house; we always want to win.”

Devon and Dylan have loved playing together at Lapel throughout their high school careers. As freshmen and sophomores, they also took the field with a third Dowden, older brother Devon.

“It’s been an honor,” Dylan said. “We played two years together, so it was great to be around his class and the class above us.”

The twins hope to do one more thing together. They are being recruited by, and hope to attend, IU-Kokomo as the Cougars get set to launch their inaugural baseball season in 2017-18.

“We actually both went to an IU-Kokomo camp, and they’re starting a new baseball program over there,” Dylan said. “Part of their coaching staff is coming to see us this spring and evaluate us. We are on their radar.”

Dustin plans to study elementary education and hopes to stay close to sports by coaching one day. Dylan has his sights set on a marketing career.