Jess and Ashley Budrewicz are twin sisters, pitcher and catcher for the MacArthur softball team and will be playing together at NYIT next year.
But if you’re picturing a joyous game of catch in the backyard, think again.
“A lot of fights,” the two said in unison.
“I hit her with a bat one time,” Jess said.
Coming a long way from those backyard altercations, the twins have led MacArthur to back-to-back appearances in the state semifinals with Jess as the pitcher and Ashley behind the plate, and they look for a third straight trip to South Glens Falls in their senior seasons.
Despite their genetic connection, the sisters didn’t have immediate chemistry as batterymates.
“She actually hated when I used to catch for her,” Ashley said.
Ashley was a shortstop in travel softball, but in middle school she made the transition to catcher. Jess didn’t immediately take to the transition, she said, but things shifted.
“I know she does all the work back there, I just throw it,” Jess said. “She frames it. She blocks it. She makes me look good at the end of the day.”
On the field — or even in the hallways — the two often appear one in the same. Get them in a room together, however, and the differences are clear.
Jess says she’s composed and laid back; Ashley says she is serious and intense. Jess calls herself “awkward” — a statement Ashley seconds — when she’s anywhere outside the pitching circle, but Ashley is as athletic as any of her teammates. Jess says she’ll find herself laughing while pitching during a Long Island championship game, whereas Ashley says she’s “throwing up” from nerves.
But even though Jess may yell at Ashley to return to the plate when coming out for an in-game conference, the two always know they can rely on one another.
“It definitely makes it easier to go out on the field and just have someone there to trust,” Ashley said.
The results seem to back that up, as Jess had a 2.13 ERA with 267 strikeouts as a sophomore and posted a 1.01 ERA with 265 strikeouts to only 23 walks in 171 ⅔ innings as a junior to lead the Generals to consecutive Long Island championships.
The circle has become a comfort zone for Jess, and having her sister behind the plate has made that even moreso.
“Once I’m in there, nothing scares me in there,” Jess said. “People say that’s the scariest position, because the ball gets hit so hard at you, but that doesn’t scare me, either.”
The only thing that may have scared Jess was her sister wanting to return to the circle. The two were both pitchers growing up, but when Ashley considered making a return to her original position, Jess had some strong feelings.
“I remember she mentioned she wanted to pitch again,” Jess said. “And I was like ‘No, you’re not doing that.’ I used to cry.”
“She wanted the spotlight, so I gave it to her,” said Ashley, as the two shared a laugh.
That decision made life easier for MacArthur coach Bobby Fehrenbach, who said he sometimes feels he can coach in a “rocking chair.”
“Regardless whether they’re twins or not, or sisters or not, just the pitcher-catcher combination is so vital,” he said. “But being they sleep under the same roof, they have to talk to each other . . . It’s better to have that combination, sisters or twins.”
When college conversations came around, Jess initially wanted to go away, whereas Ashley wanted to stay home. But once NYIT offered the two together, it almost became a no-brainer.
“We talked about it for a little,” Jess said. “But then we were like ‘What are we going to do without each other?’”
Before then, the two have their eyes on the state title. The notion of calling and executing the final pitch, nothing would be sweeter.
“It’s cool being a twin,” Jess said, adding that they are both tuned into the quest for state gold, “but it’s really cool knowing you have someone to do it with.”