Katie and Sean Hogan do everything together. They have for years.
The brother and sister, both catchers for Holy Trinity varsity teams, carry two buckets of balls to every family practice. One is filled with softballs, the other with baseballs. Their practices are hypnotizing, switching back and forth from softballs to baseballs to work on each other's skill set.
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"We practice together all the time," said Katie, a 17-year-old senior and a four-year starter for Titans softball.
This is not a sibling rivalry. This is sibling revelry at its best. Katie and Sean Hogan aren't just brother and sister. They're the best of friends.
"My sister taught me how to catch," said 14-year-old Sean, a 5-8, 155-pound catcher on the baseball team. "She taught me everything, like how to block a pitch, frame a pitch, and always emphasized speed and footwork. I watched her play softball and how she controlled the defense. She was the field general and I learned from her."
The family of catchers has not escaped the attention of the Holy Trinity administration.
"I thought it was uncommon and certainly very cool that they both start in our program," said Chris Hardardt, director of athletics. "These are two exceptional student-athletes that are focused on their goals. And they have such a great relationship."
This bond started at a very young age at the Little League complex in their hometown of East Meadow. As the years rolled on, family outings became practices. John and Tracy Hogan took their children to play, and in those fields of laughter and fun times, they developed two varsity catchers.
"Katie has been a catcher since her days playing in [Little League softball] competition," John Hogan said. "She took to it like a duck to water. She had natural blocking skills and on the long rides home from tournaments in Virginia and Connecticut, she'd ask about calling pitches and certain sequences. She really developed into the position. And Sean would come and watch the girls play and he was just a natural. It came easy for him."
When the pair couldn't get to the field, they'd catch in front of the house.
"We'd be out there in all kinds of weather just to get out and throw a ball around," Sean said. "It started as a short throw about one house to the stop sign. But now we throw the entire block."
And there were growing pains. The two weren't always on target.
"We broke a few windows and damaged some bushes on the block," Sean confessed. John laughed at the memory. "We broke my best friend's car window," he said.
Action and injuries
Catching is a tough position, but . . .
"I love being a part of the action on every play," Katie said. "You're always in the game as a catcher because the play unfolds right in front of you."
Katie and Sean also have had to deal with their share of injuries. Katie said she has suffered multiple concussions. She's taken her share of foul tips and bruises in every place imaginable.
"You need to be tough," Katie said. "The concussions are awful. I've had fingernails chip or come completely off. I go home and find bruises everywhere."
"You accept it that you're going to get hit with foul tips and pitches that you block in the dirt," Sean said. "You sign up for that when you put on the mask."
Katie, hitting .300, is the backbone of the Titans' defense. She's thrown out nine of 11 potential base-stealers and has command of her defense. Her experience allows her to call the pitches for second-year coach Michelle Tripi.
"She's playing so well this year in every aspect of the game," Tripi said. "You can't measure her impact. . . She's the on-field leader."
While Katie leads the softball team, Sean is faced with a much tougher task as a young catcher taking control of a team filled with upperclassmen.
"My teammates have been great," Sean said. "No senior wants a freshman telling them what to do. The coaches call the pitches but I am the field general when I'm out there. It's important to direct the defense and they have to trust you. I'm a blue-collar, no-frills guy. What you see is what you get, and [I] just let the performance speak for itself. I don't wear the fancy stuff or try to impress people. I just go out and play and get the job done."
The siblings get the job done in the classroom, too.
Katie, who will attend Caldwell College in New Jersey on an academic/athletic scholarship, carries a 98 grade-point average. Sean has a 95 GPA.
"You need an intelligent catcher because he's in control of what's going on," baseball coach Bob Malandro said. "Sean has moved seamlessly into the Titans' lineup. He is very determined and focused on his goals. He has a plan, and every time he takes the field, I know I have someone who understands what it takes to win a game. I love the kid and we got him for four years."
Sean, a lefthanded hitter, is having a dream season for any player, batting .455.His biggest hit came as a pinch hitter against Chaminade righthander Brendan Spagnuolo, who is committed to Vanderbilt.
"It was so exciting," Katie said. "We just finished our game and the baseball team was in extra innings and there's my little brother going up to hit in the eighth inning. I was so nervous."
Sean lined a two-run single to leftfield to win the game, 4-2, eliciting a scream from Katie.
"I almost fell off the fence watching his at-bat," she said. "It was awesome."