After spending most of his life going from one sports season to another, Colby College sophomore Luke Duncklee can’t wait to get back into action.
A three-sport standout at Cony High School in Augusta, Duncklee played both football and baseball for Colby his freshman year. His second football season last fall, however, lasted less than one game when he broke the fibula in his lower left leg in the season opener. As baseball season approaches, Duncklee said he’s ready to get back into action.
“I’m just about back to 100 percent,” he said. “I can’t wait. I miss the competition.”
The Mules open their season Sunday with a 10-game trip to Auburndale, Fla., and expect to improve on last season’s 16-17 record.
“We’ve got some solid starters back,” Duncklee said. “I’m really excited about the season. We look strong and deep.”
Duncklee will figure prominently into the team’s plans as he moves from right field to center this season and is expected to hit third in the lineup. Last season he got sick during preseason and despite some success, “he never got his groove back,” according to coach Dale Plummer.
“It really took a lot out of him,” Plummer said. “He looks great. It’s just a matter of him getting comfortable.”
Duncklee continues to rehabilitate his leg in what has proven to be a longer road back than expected. After his injury he was in a cast for a month, then in a walking boot for another month. That was followed by a month and a half wearing a brace.
“I’m doing a lot of rehab every day,” he said. “I can sprint, I’m hitting every day and fielding.”
Duncklee hit and fielded well last year, finishing with a .356 batting average, 11 RBIs and stealing 11 bases in 12 attempts. He made just one error in the field but is looking forward to moving to center where he played throughout high school.
“I like being in the outfield and chasing down balls,” he said.
Plummer said Duncklee has the green light on the base paths and has challenged him and fellow speedster Jason Buco to take a run at the single season stolen base record. Beyond that, Duncklee is a good baserunner.
“He’s just got a lot of instinct,” Plummer said. “There’s some things you can’t teach.”
Last year he hit near the bottom of the order and realizes he’ll see more breaking balls batting third. He’s worked with hitting coach Tom Dexter on the mechanical parts of his swing and spent a lot of time in the weight room in the off-season.
“Last year I was kind of a singles hitter,” he said. “In the off-season I worked out a lot and put on 15 pounds of weight and a lot of muscle. I feel more power driving through the ball.”
Duncklee is one of four players on the baseball team that also play football and one of several athletes in the school who participate in more than one sport. An economics major, he said it does place a premium on his time.
“It’s very, very hard,” he said. “Some nights you get two or three hours sleep, but it’s very rewarding. Having sports helps me maintain a schedule.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638