In softball, a double is more productive than a single.
This holds especially true on the Columbia College softball field, where identical twins Amy and Anna Seipp have spent the past three seasons frustrating opposing pitchers.
The Seipps, seniors from O’Fallon, Ill., will try to lead the No. 13 Columbia College Cougars to the NAIA national tournament. Its season begins at 2 p.m. today against Truman State at the Columbia College softball field.
Amy, a 2003 second-team NAIA All-American, has high expectations.
“We’re going to do really good this season,” Amy said. “Our pitchers are probably at the strongest point they’ve ever been preseason.”
Anna, younger by eight minutes, agreed.
“We want to go back to nationals and place even higher this year,” she said. “We are a little upset with our preseason ranking. After losing only three seniors, we thought we should have been a little higher.”
The team will be tested early, for Truman State, a NCAA Division II school, is 4-1.
Although the first game may prove challenging, coach Wendy Spratt would have it no other way.
“We purposefully schedule tougher teams because if you want to be ranked and stay ranked, you have to play the top teams to earn it,” she said.
“Truman will be a great opponent for us. It is usually a one-run game and we start that way because we want to delve right into our major competition.”
The Cougars, 38-17 and ranked No. 6 in the NAIA last season, stand a good chance because of the Seipps’ steady bats.
Last season, Amy, who played catcher, hit .340 and led the Cougars with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs. Anna, a left fielder, hit almost as well, for she finished with a .306 average, two home runs and 27 RBIs.
The individual statistics aren’t important.
“Anything that will help the team is what we’re here for,” Anna said.
Spratt knows that good things come in pairs.
“Amy and Anna are very intense and very willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done,” she said. “When the game is on the line, you want them at the plate.”
The Seipps are so willing to help their team win they will switch positions. When she arrived in Columbia in 2000, Anna played third base before moving to the outfield. Amy filled in at shortstop this fall.
“They are just willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Spratt said.
The Seipps, who often finish each other’s sentences, claim they don’t have any sort of psychic connection. They agree they share a special bond off and on the field.
“We can read each other really well,” Amy said. “We know how the other person is feeling and know how to get the other person pumped. When we are playing close to each other, we can sort of read each others minds.”
A mole above Anna’s right eyebrow and a freckle on Amy’s left earlobe are the only obvious distinguishing factors. Although determining the differences in their appearances is difficult, they say time can help.
“At some point when everyone gets to know us, we are totally opposite,” Amy said.
Monica Mueller, a 2003 second-team All-American pitcher, agreed.
“They have different personalities and you can tell, but when I first came here I thought ‘Which one’s which?’” Mueller said. “Now I can totally tell them apart.”
Mueller, who had 20 wins and a 0.75 ERA in 2003, has relied on Amy’s catching prowess for the past three years.
“She is one of the best catchers I’ve worked with,” she said. “During games when she calls a pitch, it is often the one I was thinking of. We have a good connection.”
Anna recently became the backup catcher and has discovered a newfound appreciation for the position.
“I have a lot more respect for catchers than I did,” she said. “I used to give Amy a hard time for being lazy, but now I have a lot more respect for what she does.”
Spratt said that though the cold weather has forced the team to practice indoors, the hitters and outfielders are three weeks ahead of schedule and said the team is ready to compete.
“Our pitchers and hitters are looking great,” she said. “We have been working them out a lot harder this year than ever before and we’re hoping it will all pay off. I think we’re ready to go.”
The Seipps concur and say the team is tired of being cooped up indoors and is ready to begin its quest for a second straight American Midwest Conference championship and its first top four NAIA national tournament finish.
“It’s going to be great to get outside and play around in the dirt a little,” Anna said. “Our pitching is really strong and our defense is really good. We have a very athletic team.”
Amy, a half-second later, seconded her sister’s thought.
“I totally agree,” she said. “We should end our senior season doing well.”