Not only are Elyria High’s Kaitlyn and Kandis Laseke identical twins, they also share an identical dream — to win a state softball championship.
Kaitlyn will be behind the plate today for the Pioneers when they battle Grove City in the Division I state semifinals at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Kandis, as she has for the last 16 games, will be in the dugout cheering on her sister and the rest of her teammates.
Kandis was Elyria’s starting shortstop and leading hitter with a .475 average before she broke her collarbone at the Prebis Memorial Classic in late April.
“It’s been horrible for me not being able to be out on the field but I love that I can still be here and be in the dugout and support my team,” Kandis said.
The Laseke sisters are the only seniors on the roster.
“We miss Kandis in our lineup,” Elyria coach Ken Fenik said. “She was our starting shortstop and one of our best hitters, but unfortunately injuries are part of the sport. Kandis is still a vital part of our team in the dugout cheering her teammates on and talking to the players if they make a mistake. She has been a real role model to the young girls coming up through the program.”
Kaitlyn has made herself into one of the best defensive catchers in the area over the course of the season and her two home runs — which accounted for all of Elyria’s offense in Saturday’s 4-0 regional final win over Brecksville — is one of the primary reasons the Pioneers are headed to state for the fourth straight year.
Kaitlyn leads the team with 30 runs and is second in doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in and sacrifice bunts.
“I’m taking it as my responsibility to play well for myself and my sister now that she can’t play,” Kaitlyn said. “After Kandis got hurt a lot of people didn’t think we were going anywhere but now we’ve put all the pieces together and we’ve gone way further than anyone expected.”
Fenik said Kandis’ injury forced the team to revamp its entire lineup. The Pioneers didn’t settle on their current lineup until shortly before the start of the sectional tournament.
Even before her injury, Kandis wondered if this year’s team had what it took to return to Akron.
“From the start of the year I didn’t know if we’d be back in this position, but when I started to see how the team came together and people started to play for each other I knew we could go far,” Kandis said.
Kandis and Kaitlyn agree that one of the best aspects of their high school softball careers has been that they had a chance to be teammates for four years. In fact, the sisters are so close they decided they will continue their playing careers together next year at Lakeland Community College.
“The Laseke twins got better each year,” Fenik said. “They are totally different softball players than they were freshman and sophomore year and we’re thankful to have both of them on our team. They both live and breathe the game. They’re going to college together and that coach is going to get a couple of great players.”
The Lasekes take their softball seriously but their special bond as identical twins allows them to have fun with their teammates, classmates and coaches.
“We do wear the same clothes a lot,” Kaitlyn said. “We don’t even mean to, we just come out of our rooms at the last minute wearing the same thing. One time our teammates made us put numbers on our back so they could tell who’s who.”
When asked if they ever do anything to confuse Fenik, who admits he still has a hard time telling the sisters apart, Kandis said that’s happened a lot this year although she claims its always “accidental.”
Kandis said the best way to tell the sisters apart is to look at their hair.
“My hair is like big and curly and hers is like straight and she keeps it all nice and neat,” Kandis said.
Kaitlyn described herself as a “shy little freshman” when she started her Elyria softball career. She said she never imagined her four years would end with multiple state tournament appearances.
“I never think about the pressure,” she said. “I just focus on what needs to be done and this year. I want us to win that final game of the season. I’m very grateful for my coaches and teammates who have been there to support me. Everyone on this team gets along so well. We’re all like one big happy family, there for each other until the end.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: Division I semifinal
WHO: Elyria (23-7) vs. Grove City (25-6)
TIME: 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Firestone Stadium, Akron
RADIO: WEOL 930-AM, WOBL 1320-AM