Ian and Jack Edmiston have played on the same team since they started playing T-ball when they were 4.
Having only a year left to do that as members of the Lake Norman baseball squad, the twin brothers are trying to make the most of it.
The Edmistons, four-year varsity players who came up big for the Wildcats as they claimed a regular season I-Meck championship last year, stand out because of their competitiveness and determination, said Lake Norman coach Robert Little.
"They set goals for themselves and try to be the best players they can," he added.
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Ian, a shortstop who hit .466 as a junior, said he and his brother try to work hard and give it their all to help their team.
"You want to leave with no regrets at the end of the game," he said.
Jack, who's older by more than an hour, said his brother does that while also being aggressive.
"He goes after everything on the field, but at the same time he lets the game come to him," Jack said. "He doesn't force it."
Jack, an all-conference catcher who drove in 24 runs last year, has been solid behind the plate for Lake Norman because he's able to capitalize off opportunity he's given, said his brother.
"He tries to take advantage of the mistakes other people have," Ian said.
Ian and Jack say they always try to outdo each other. That sibling rivalry has pushed them to grow as baseball players.
"We've matured at different rates, so when one's ahead you try to catch up and do everything you can to at least equalize it," said Ian.
The seniors say that having played together for so long is something they use to their advantage.
"It helps out because we know what to expect from each other, what we do in certain situations," said Ian.
His brother agreed.
"We have plays where we just look at each other and know what we're going to do," said Jack. "Not many people can do that."
Little said he's noticed that chemistry, explaining that the twins have picked off players even when the coaches haven't called for it.
But the coach said the Edmistons' biggest asset may be their leadership. He said Jack, who had to sit out early scrimmages because of a pulled groin, spent his time in the dugout working with freshmen.
"That's hard to coach," said Little.
Being seniors and team captains, the brothers say they take their leadership positions seriously, hoping to lead the team to another conference championship.
With strong Mooresville and Hough teams returning talented players, including the Blue Devils' Ryan Brennan and the Huskies' Johnny Piedmonte, the Wildcats will have their hands full. Hopewell and Mallard Creek, which both lost Division I players from last year, could also be contenders.
But the Edmistons' goals don't stop there, as they hope to play for another state title. They were freshman reserves when the Wildcats claimed the 3A championship in 2009.
"It'd be more satisfying to win it this year than as a freshman," said Jack. "Not many people can go out with a win on their last game and be state champions."
Lake Norman has a mix of experienced and new players on its roster. Jack said the team has looked good early on.
"We have a lot of young guys with a lot of talent," he said. "I think we're better than last year."
Jack added that freshman third baseman Josh Ladowski has impressed him.
"We're expecting big things out of him," Jack said. "He just makes our team stronger."
Little said he's also seen promise from Mike Knight, Bailey McKee and Michael Elwell as well as from Pine Lake Prep senior transfer Garrett Welborn.
These players, mixed with Wildcat veterans like Jesse Seaford and Alex Cagide, have Ian excited about the season.
"I think we're a little bit faster and more athletic as well," he said. "That should help us overcome some of what we lost."
Being without pitching ace Taylor Thurber, who's now at Appalachian State, Lake Norman will rely on Charlotte-bound senior Jon Stires as its No. 1 thrower.
A big change for baseball teams this season will be the use of BBCOR bats, which, for safety issues, are designed to slow down how fast the ball comes off the bat.
Jack said the bats, which caused an average decrease of 1.4 runs per game and cut home runs nearly in half when first used collegiately last year, may play up to his team's strength.
"It's a big difference," said Jack, who hit three home runs last year. "It may not benefit me personally, but I think it will benefit the team we have - we don't have a lot of power guys."
Because of the change, defense will be big this season, said Ian.
"We have a fast team, and hopefully that will be our strength," he said.
With Ian signing to play at Fordham and Jack still deciding between Bates College (Maine), Catawba, Washington & Lee (Va.) and Sewanee (Tenn.), the brothers have mixed emotions about being apart.
"It's going to be a big change next year," said Jack.
But for now, they just want to focus on helping their team and to finish their high school careers strong.