As early as age 3, Will and Lyndsey Shaw were fascinated by bats and balls. The Sayville twins started, they said, by launching Wiffle balls to each other over their grandfather’s West Islip house. From there they were hitting baseballs in their backyard batting cage or smacking them over fences on a diamond.
The brother and sister were standouts from a young age, going as a package with the top pick in Little League drafts and ultimately playing some of the most competitive travel baseball on Long Island with each other. Lyndsey, reluctantly at first, branched off from baseball to softball at age 12.
Now high school seniors, the siblings are on their way to playing on Division I college diamonds. Will, an outfielder at St. John the Baptist High School, is committed to play baseball at James Madison University and Lyndsey, a catcher at Sayville High School, will play softball at Albany.
“He reminds me of myself when hitting,” Lyndsey said. “I think as a player, he’s me in boy version and I’m him in girl version.”
Hitting formed a bond even tighter than just being born on the same day. When Lyndsey was growing up, she always played baseball with Will. Not only in the backyard, but on some of the top teams in the area. Although Lyndsey was the only girl on the team, Will didn’t have to worry much about someone saying she didn’t belong.
“Usually when someone said something, it would come back and hurt them because she would usually strike the person out,” Will said. “I wouldn’t really have to worry about that.”
But Lyndsey knew she wouldn’t be able to play baseball forever. In fifth grade, Tiffany Rowan, the Sayville varsity softball coach and physical education teacher, noticed Lyndsey in the gymnasium playing kickball, catching line drives and immediately looking to start double plays.
When Rowan asked Lyndsey if she played softball, the 12-year-old responded with “No, I play baseball.” But Rowan sought out Lyndsey’s parents, Bill and Geri Shaw, at Sayville’s Field Day and told them their daughter should play softball because of her natural talent and instincts.
“At first, I was against it,” Bill said. “I said ‘She’s such a good baseball player, she loves the game. Is it going to be such a drastic change that it’s going to affect her ability?’ I didn’t know if she would love softball.”
After seeing some college softball games with her father, Lyndsey was quickly drawn in by the game’s speed.
“I was getting really excited knowing one day that could be me and maybe I could play there,” Lyndsey said. “Realistically, I could never play Division I baseball as a girl. It’s just unheard of.”
And it didn’t take Lyndsey long to prove she belonged, starting in state championship games as a seventh and eighth grader. She’s hit better than .600 each of the past two seasons and this season she is batting .651 with two home runs, 34 RBIs, 15 extra-base hits and 15 runs scored for Sayville (13-0).
Will, who hit .430 in a wood bat league last season, is featured in the middle of the lineup for St. John the Baptist, which reached the CHSAA finals last season. This year, he’s .339 with a home run and 10 RBIs for St. John the Baptist (8-5).
Their individual success has also brought out their competitiveness. The two spend hours pitching and hitting to each other in their backyard batting cage, which even has an industrial grade light. But when one has a better game than the other, dinner conversations can become a bit awkward.
“You don’t talk,” said Lyndsey with a laugh. “It gets pretty competitive.”
“Even still,” Will said. “When we were younger, it was good because we had a competition with each other and it drove us to be better. It helped us get a lot better as we got older.”
The two attend each other’s games when possible, with Will offering suggestions and Lyndsey taking cellphone videos of his at-bats. They do it to make each other better and it has gotten them both to be leaders of their teams and on their way to playing college ball.
“I think it’s unique because you don’t really get twins that play sports as much as we do,” Will said. “Then we took it to another level playing Division-I sports, which I think is awesome. I think it couldn’t have worked out better for either one of us.”