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Female Athlete of the Year: Lux rewrites record books en route to All-America honors

Laura Myers | Thursday, May 13, 2010

Christine Lux has always put a lot of pressure on herself to do well. She knew her hard work had paid off when she earned third-team All-American honors after her junior campaign, becoming the first Irish All-American since 2006.

“That was never an honor that I thought I would get,” the senior first baseman said. “I came from a little town, a little softball team.”

Lux, who hails from Glendale Heights, Ill., will leave Notre Dame after one of the program’s most accomplished four-year careers — but she almost did not get a chance to do so. In fact, Notre Dame was one of few schools that considered her to play softball.

“I was from the Midwest and normally the softball coaches from all around the United States will go to the warmer climate places like California and Florida to recruit because they play softball year-round,” Lux said. “When I got here I was glad to make an impact and show that yes, Midwest girls are talented and they can be good at softball.”

And she did.

Lux began breaking records in 2008, her sophomore season, when she hit her 14th and 15th homers in the last game of the regular season, achieving a new high for home runs in a season. She tied that record in 2009 and broke it again this season, finishing with 16 home runs. She also owns Notre Dame career records for home runs (49) and putouts (1,523), and is second in career RBIs (169). Her 2010 slugging percentage of .816 is the best in a single-season, well above the .695 mark she set in 2009.

Lux’s Big East accomplishments are numerous as well. She is the only player inconference history to record 60 runs, 80 hits and 60 RBIs in a career, and she holds the top spot in career RBIs (66) and home runs (24) in conference play.

Despite the long list, Lux said breaking records never gets old.

“It’s exciting every time,” she said. “I honestly still don’t know half the records I break until I break them and [the coaches] are like ‘Oh congratulations, you broke two records today!’ and I’m like ‘What records are they?’

“I don’t really like to focus on stats so much, because you just start getting in your head, and softball’s so much of a mental game as it is and I don’t want to add more pressure to myself about beating records. If we win, I’m happy. That’s pretty much my reason for being out there.”

She has been out there since her freshman year, when she played in 45 games, starting 41.

“Some people got injured and I got the chance to play, which was a great opportunity and I kind of took advantage of it and I’ve been able to play since, which has been great,” Lux said.

In the early part of her career, Lux said she did not feel pressured, despite having established herself as an important part of the Irish offense.

“Yes, the coaches did want me to perform well, but I was still a sophomore and the team at the time was dominated by upperclassmen,” she said. “The underclassmen weren’t that great of an impact at the moment.”

Lux began to take on more of a leadership role on the 2009 team, which upset DePaul for its first Big East tournament title since 2006 and an automatic NCAA berth.

“It ended on a double play, it was a close game, close game and finally double-play, bang-bang, it’s over,” Lux said. “It was one of the biggest highs I’ve had in my life. It was so exciting, because at Notre Dame I’d never won a big championship. We’d never won regionals, we’d never won the Big East, until last year, and it was amazing.”

Lux was named to the all-tournament team that year, and she earned first-team all-Big East honors to go along with her All-American distinction.

Now, Lux is one of just three seniors and the only one who will graduate — seniors Lex Clay and Heather Johnson are both eligible for one more year. Lux said all three have been important leaders for the 2010 team.

“The three of us right now are a solid group of players who have had a ton of experience under our belt,” she said. “And we have a calm mentality that kind of just transcends through the team. And they feed off of it, so they’re relaxed and calm. They don’t get all crazy if we’re not doing well. I think the level-headedness and the experience we bring has really helped the team this year.”

The three have led the team to its most successful season in years, helping the team to a 44-9 record and a share in the Big East title.

“Finally, all the work that our team has done has paid off and has shown,” Lux said.  “In the previous three years, we’ve put in the hard work but the results haven’t really come through, but this year we are dominating in all respects of the game and we’re finally making a name for Notre Dame softball.

“And it’s just exciting to be a part of that and have this be my last year. I wouldn’t have chosen another team to be a part of.”