Best friends and twins, Danielle and Delina Farnlacher have carried that bond onto the field for the Whitehall-Yearling High School softball team.
The seniors have helped set a solid foundation for the Rams, and according to first-year coach Brian Anderson, they have made his transition easier.
Both play key positions, as Danielle is the Rams' top pitcher and Delina is the starting catcher. Both are captains, along with senior Amber Lucas.
"The twins are two of the hardest-working girls I've ever been around," Anderson said. "They're not rah-rah-type leaders, but you couldn't ask for two better leaders by example. They go through every little drill in practice, and even going back to November for conditioning, they do every drill like it's the seventh inning of the state championship game. They go full bore and they work very hard."
Danielle and Delina are four-year starters who were honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio Division last season.
"I love playing with her," Delina said of her sister. "We motivate each other and push each other to be better. We're best friends. We do everything together."
Both began playing at a young age in the Whitehall T-Ball League, and they later played softball in the Whitehall Youth Athletic Association.
Danielle was a pitcher throughout her years in youth softball, and she became the Rams' ace her sophomore season.
Delina was introduced to catching in the youth league, but was an outfielder her freshman and sophomore seasons. She moved behind the plate last season.
"I like her behind the plate," Danielle said. "We grew up together pitching and catching. It makes things a lot easier on me."
While some coaches instruct catchers on which pitches to call, Delina is allowed to call the game.
"I like doing it," she said. "I like looking at the batters and seeing what to throw. We're on the same page most of the time. (Danielle) hardly ever waves me off."
In her first eight starts this season, Danielle was 3-4 with a 4.43 ERA. She had 28 strikeouts and 18 walks in 36 1/3 innings.
Both have been key offensive contributors, as Danielle led the team in batting average (.370) and RBI (7) though nine games. Delina was tied with freshman Brooklyn Rayburn for second in batting average (.360) and led in runs (8).
Last season, the Rams finished 6-18, a mark they are hoping to improve this season. They entered the week 3-7 overall.
Whitehall's early schedule included a 5-1 loss to Division I Worthington Kilbourne on April 6. The Rams bounced back to defeat Division I Mount Vernon 6-0 in the second game April 6 behind Danielle's five-hitter.
"Coach is doing a good job," Delina said. "We're doing a lot better than last year already."
The sisters also were three-year letterwinners in volleyball. Delina had 132 digs and 23 aces and Danielle had 88 kills and 19 aces last season.
"They never came off the court," coach Danielle Smith said. "I have known the girls since they were in seventh grade. They are tremendous athletes and great students in the classroom. They do an excellent job of leading the team while they are on the court. Both girls would do anything I asked. They would play any position."
Softball, however, is their passion, and both would like to play in college -- at the same school. Their top choices include Capital and Otterbein.
The Rams lost to visiting Licking Valley 13-0 in five innings April 10 as Panthers sophomore pitcher Shelby McCombs allowed two hits and struck out nine.
"Licking Valley does a lot of good things," Danielle said. "They're a good hitting team. If we're going to beat them, we have to play really tough."
Baseball team looks to bounce back
The baseball team was 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Columbus Academy on April 15.
The Rams lost league games to visiting Licking Valley 9-5 on April 10 and host Heath 4-1 on April 12.
Whitehall led Licking Valley 3-2 after one inning, and the game was tied at 4 after two before the Panthers took control. Nick Wright and Cameron Barker each had two hits, and Noah Jay and James Holley each had an RBI.
"We have done a nice job at the plate," coach Bill Welsh said.
"For the most part, we are putting the ball in play and creating opportunities to score runs. Our biggest challenge has been putting together seven consistent innings. Defensively, we still need to get better at making the routine plays to get out of innings and help our pitchers."
Boys tennis team loses opener
The boys tennis team lost its opener at West Jefferson 4-1 on April 9.
Jiawen Zhen defeated Garrett Beachy 6-1, 6-1 at second singles.
The Rams' April 11 match against Watkins Memorial was postponed because of bad weather.
"Practice has given us a chance to improve on court position, strategy and serves," coach Ben White said.
"Doubles players have been encouraged to 'crash' the net to gain an offensive advantage. Singles players have been told to stay out of no man's land, (which is) the area between the service line and the baseline."