The one thing about Caroline and Lucas Young that isn’t almost exactly the same is their personality. Jeremiah Shearer noticed that when he taught the senior fraternal twins in freshman social studies at East Carter High School.
“It was interesting,” Shearer said. “Caroline always had something to say or a comment to make, and she was just bubbly, that personality. Lucas would just kinda grin and shake his head like, ‘I don’t even know her.’”
The Young twins, aside from the obvious gender difference, are otherwise indistinguishable on the field and inseparable off it. Caroline and Lucas are catchers and middle-of-the-lineup hitters for East Carter’s softball and baseball teams, respectively.
“We both started catching in Little League, and we both enjoy that position a lot,” Caroline said. “You see the field, you have the best angle of the field, you see what everyone’s doing. It’s a great view for both of us, and I know we both enjoy that.”
Both carry the leadership role that goes along with being seniors who patrol the backstop.
“She’s been an outstanding leader, not only on the field but there in the dugout,” Lady Raiders coach Derek Calhoun said of Caroline, “cheering on the girls, picking them up if they may have a bad at-bat or if they
make an error in the field. It’s great to have those senior girls there.”
Lucas, wired in a more introverted way, approaches that job differently.
“He’s intense in games, very intense, but he doesn’t express it outwardly,” Shearer said. “He’s not that vocal leader. He’s more of a quiet, do-it-the-way-I-do-it-not-the-way-I-say-it kind of guy.”
That has nonetheless been effective for the Raiders.
“Most of the seniors have been hurt this year,” Lucas said, “so I did feel like I needed to step up a little bit.”
If one twin doesn’t have a game and the other does, the one who’s off can often be found supporting the other one. Those nights are easiest for their mother, too.
As a single mom who spends much of her working time away from Grayson, figuring out how to get to all of one kid’s games would be difficult enough for Valerie Young.
Having twins playing simultaneously makes it impossible for Valerie to see all of either one’s games, but she does the best she can. She works in the MRI department at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland and often spends two to three days a week on a mobile unit, which takes her sometimes to Grayson and sometimes to Jackson, Ohio.
She has a system for deciding which game to attend: if she’s working in Ashland and one of her children is playing a game close to there, that’s where she’ll go.
Other parents will keep her updated by text message on what’s going on with whichever catcher she isn’t watching. At home games, Valerie often works preparing concessions. The baseball concession stand at J.P. Kouns Field is located right behind the backstop, but the one at the Lady Raiders’ complex is off-center, doesn’t have as big of a window and features a more extensive menu, meaning Valerie gladly accepts a head’s-up when Caroline is preparing to hit. “If I’m over by the fryer frying French fries, they’re like, ‘Oh, Caroline’s up,’ so you say ‘hang on’ and you run and watch,” Valerie said. “We all pitch in, all of us moms do, to take turns watching our kids.”
Caroline has hit one home run this year and Lucas has produced two. Valerie hasn’t seen any of them, which has become something of a running joke. “Luckily, someone got them on video,” Valerie said, “but I had several people tell me to stay away, that they get them when I’m not there. I had been at the other’s game when they happened.”
Valerie unfortunately will not see either one play in the 16th Region Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday, at least in person. She’s scheduled to work on all three days of Memorial Day weekend, she said.
Her parents, Ron and Doris Bush, plan to take in some of East Carter’s baseball game against Rowan County in Raceland, which begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, before heading to Boyd County to see the Lady Raiders face Raceland. That game starts at 1.
The Bushes help the twins feel supported, Valerie said, as does their father and her ex-husband, Stephen Young. He lives in North Carolina and is a major in the United States Army, but makes it back home “quite a bit,” Valerie said.
Like the stereotype of most siblings, Lucas and Caroline haven’t always gotten along perfectly.
Although the twins say they’re close now, friends and coaches occasionally exploit that for their own amusement.
“I think the rest of us egg it on a little bit,” Shearer said. “I’ll make comments to Lucas like, ‘How does it feel to be the second-best catcher in the family?’ We kinda get it going. They have some friendly banter back and forth, but they’re very close, as you’d expect twins to be. I think it’s all friendly.”
Or, as Lucas put it: “We’ve always been real close. We all have the same friends. If we go someplace, we’re always there together. Her friends are my friends; my friends are her friends. We may argue a lot, but are you really twins if you don’t argue that much?”
Both competitive by nature, the Youngs have a natural friendly rival to try to outdo.
“Since we do have the same position on the field and hitting in the same batting spot, we’re very competitive in that way,” Caroline said. “A lot of our friends give us crap, ‘Who’s the better catcher?’ We argue about that all the time, and I think that makes us both play a little bit harder because we have to compete against each other.” Off the field, Lucas and Caroline often talk shop, looking for pointers to improve their craft. “If I have a bad game, he tells me, and not too nice about it sometimes,” Caroline said, “but I appreciate that a lot. I tell him that too, and I think it’s good that we’re both there for each other. He always gives me tips; I give him tips. It’s good to have each other there for that.” Both have caught from an early age and enjoyed it “because when you’re younger, if you’re out in the outfield, you feel like you’re being punished,” Valerie said, “because nothing happens out there in the outfield when you’re young.”
Caroline began catching earlier than Lucas did. He said he didn’t catch until his last year or so of Little League. In high school, he didn’t move behind the plate full-time until his junior season.
“When I got started, she always helped me, and now we’re in high school,” he said. “She’ll sometimes ask me what she can do to block some balls, and it’s just something we can both talk about and relate to really well.”
The Young twins aren’t the only ones who participate in the bat-and-ball sports at East Carter. Lindsay and Matthew Holmes play for the Lady Raiders and their male counterparts, respectively. They are also second cousins of the Youngs — Valerie Young and Kristie Holmes, Lindsay and Matthew’s mother, are cousins.
Lindsay and Caroline bring experience to a youthful East Carter club that, despite losing Fouts and her classmates to graduation, is again the winningest softball team in the region.
“We lost an abundance last year, and they knew that they really needed to push these young girls and make sure that they stayed focused in practices,” Calhoun said. “It’s been a blessing for them.”
Caroline said the Lady Raiders’ senior class is fueled by the team’s run to last year’s state final four.
“Ending a year like that was just amazing,” she said. “Me and the other seniors — Emily (Goodman), Carra (Layne), Lindsay — they all wanted to make this year the best, and I think we’ve done a really good job to come close to what we accomplished last year. We’re not done yet. Hopefully we can keep going.”
Matthew Holmes, who started at first base and designated hitter for the Raiders last year, missed most of his senior season with torn tendons in his finger. He has been medically released to pitch and made two appearances on the mound.
“It’s never happened before, even one set of twins like that,” Shearer said, “so to have two at the same time, and both of them be integral parts ... is pretty rare, especially in a town as small as Grayson.”
As for the Youngs, their time in East Carter uniforms is dwindling, but they’ll still see quite a bit of each other: both plan to attend Eastern Kentucky University and will even live in the same dormitory.
“Can’t get rid of him yet,” Caroline said with a chuckle, not that she wants to.
“I think it’s really good to have sports bring us closer,” she said, “and I’m really glad to have him as a brother.”