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July 7, 2013

The payoff

Clem perseveres through knee injuries, earns top honor

Having gone through five knee surgeries during his young lifetime, Lewis Cass’ Austin Clem stuck with it in baseball and persevered.

All of his hard work and determination has paid off, as he posted a huge senior season for the Kings baseball team.

Clem batted .419 with four home runs and 35 RBIs for a Kings squad that went 18-7. And he is the 2013 Loganland Baseball Player of the Year.

“It felt really good. I worked really hard in the offseason. I kept rehabbing my knee because I had surgery after last year, too,” Clem said. “It was 24/7 in the cage and fieldhouse.”

Clem, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound first baseman, is getting a full tuition paid academic scholarship to play baseball at Huntington University. He said he might move over to third base in college.

Clem led the Kings in hits (31), doubles (7), home runs and RBIs this season. He scored 18 runs. He fielded at a .976 clip at first base.

“For all that has happened to him, most guys wouldn’t be playing,” Cass coach Greg Marschand said. “The enthusiasm, energy and passion he brings to every practice ... we haven’t had too many guys like him.

“He picks up others around him. He’s’ a special kind of guy that doesn’t come around too often.”

After having five surgeries on his right knee, Clem injured his left knee playing in the Cass alumni game this summer. He doesn’t yet know the seriousness of the injury and is awaiting word from his doctor next week.

“So far it’s not too bad. We’ll see,” said Clem, who hopes to avoid another surgery.

“I had my first knee surgery in the fourth grade. ... They’ve all been freak accidents, all due to sports.”

Clem said the surgeries have ranged in seriousness.

“Some have been more serious. Nothing has been easy with a knee surgery. It’s three to four months of rehab,” he said.

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