Oxford Hills’ Janek Luksza is congratulates by Wyatt Williamson after scoring the tying run in the Class A North final Wednesday in Augusta. Brewster Burns photo

PARIS — Janek Luksza pulled into a familiar spot with a rally-sparking double in Wednesday’s Class A North baseball final, looked to his team’s dugout on the third base side and raised his fist to the sky.

The steady senior shortstop and No. 3 hitter isn’t generally prone to such outbursts of emotion, even though he’s had plenty of opportunities as a three-sport star for Oxford Hills.

Given the moment, with the Vikings’ offense languishing and desperately needing someone or something to swing momentum their way against Edward Little starter Ethan Brown, the fist pump was the fitting exclamation point to a game-changing hit.

“That’s a side of Janek that’s always there,” Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer said. “He’s always ready to play. He’s emotional in the dugout, not as emotional as say (teammates) Cameron (Slicer) or Wyatt (Williamson), but there’s a lot of fire going on at all times. He just doesn’t show it the same way.”

A day later, in more typical fashion, Luksza wasn’t eager to pat himself on the back for the impact he’d had on the unbeaten Vikings’ 3-1 win and first regional championship since 2010. He reserved any and all verbal fist pumps for his teammates.

“I was just trying to get on base and get something started,” he said. “I hit the ball in the (left-center) gap, so a double helps. And then Will (Dieterich) hit me in, which was huge, to tie the game up at that point.”

Luksza scored the tying run on Dieterich’s hit in the fourth, then in the sixth got on base with a perfect bunt and later scored the winning run all the way from second base on a ground ball that never left the infield.

Add in the flawless play at short and, other than the animated reactions on the base paths, it was reminiscent of virtually any other game Luksza has played the past four years as a varsity starter.

“I think the biggest thing about Janek that gets overlooked is his consistency. He doesn’t mess up,” Slicer said. “And when the chips are down, I think he’s better.”

“The last four games, I think, he’s playing his best ball,” Slicer added. “When we need something, he gets it. He’s swinging the bat well, hitting gaps, making all the plays (defensively). He makes smart decisions. He’s very intelligent and very tough.”

Slicer could point to at least a dozen plays where Luksza ranges far to his left or right to field an almost certain single and throws out a batter at first. Instead, he mentions a couple of plays Luksza made by not making them in the Vikings’ last two games, against Edward Little and Lewiston.

Both were tough grounders to short, one a slow roller, one a high hopper. Luksza quickly calculated the odds of throwing the batter out at first were prohibitively against him, so rather than hurry the play and make a bad throw that could tilt a close game, he held onto it, keeping an infield hit from turning into a one- or two-base error.

“His intelligence, and his focus, is as good as we’ve got,” Slicer said.

The plaudits for Luksza were virtually the same from Luksza’s fall and spring coaches, varsity football coach Mark Soehren and basketball coach Scott Graffam.

Last fall, Luksza returned to football for his senior year after spending a season away to join the golf team. A starting wide receiver/linebacker/kicker/punter, he had to take on a bigger role in the offense when Cam Slicer after he broke his leg in practice. He went on to become QB Colton Carson’s favorite target and helped lead the Vikings to the regional final. He made the Class A North all-star team as a wide receiver, kicker and punter.

In basketball, Luksza, a guard, was a defensive stopper for Graffam. Luksza admits scoring isn’t his strong suit on the court like it is on the diamond, “so I focused on controlling what I can control, which is defense. A two-time Class AA North all-defensive team member, he helped the Vikings reach the regional semifinals each of the past two years.

“He’s a spark plug at everything,” said Carson, a fellow senior who played with Luksza in all three sports. “In football, he was huge for us, offense and defense. He just never let the moment get too big for him in any sport. I think that’s huge, when you see someone who is so even-keeled and knows what he has to do and gets it done. It makes it so much easier for everyone else.”

“Janek’s the one that gets overlooked sometimes, “Shane Slicer said, “because Colton’s getting a D-I scholarship (to play baseball at UMaine) and gets a little more press, but Jan is as solid as they come, as good a player as I’ve had.”

Luksza, who will enroll and play baseball next fall at the University of Southern Maine, is content with his teammates getting more ink. He certainly wouldn’t trade being able to play on such a talented team for more recognition.

“Everyone on our team is good, so we compete against each other, and it helps us all get better,” Luksza said.

“I think it pushes me to be the best player I can be,” he said.


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