Ally and Kenzie Maddy agree they have made each other better softball players throughout a journey that began on youth travel teams, continued through three seasons at Groveport Madison and, starting this fall, will progress to the collegiate level at Fairmont State.

The twins haven't always used the nicest words to do so, either.

"It doesn't have to be 'good job, you've got it.' Sometimes she'll say, 'You're doing terrible,' and then I'll do better," Ally, a pitcher, said with a laugh. "We just know each other so well."

Kenzie, who plays second base, added her side of the story a few minutes later.

"It's definitely a love-hate relationship," said Kenzie, who is an hour older than Ally. "I'm not afraid to tell her to get it together. She won't even turn around. We keep pushing each other."

The sisters and the rest of the Cruisers lost a chance to pursue their fourth consecutive OCC-Capital Division championship this spring because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but Ally and Kenzie leave Groveport having enjoyed plenty of success regardless.

In their three seasons, the Cruisers went 63-21 with a Division I district runner-up finish in 2017 and district semifinal appearances each of the past two years.

"They're super-close, not just in looks, but the things they do," Groveport coach Chris Downing said. "They both have an extremely high softball IQ, but it's about even more than that with them. They came up through the game and learned.

"Kenzie has such great range at second base. I've always been a believer in my second baseman needing to be one of my best athletes because they'll get more balls than anybody.

"Ally came in when she was younger with some spot throwing, but last year she locked (the role of being primary pitcher) down. She's our go-to person."

Ally joined the varsity early in her freshman year as a right fielder and made an immediate impact, posting a .361 batting average that season and batting .380 as a sophomore before succeeding three-year starting pitcher Sara Gockenbach.

That did not lessen Ally's offensive contributions, as she still batted .379.

"I don't focus as much on speed, just on movement and accuracy," Ally said. "I don't throw my fastball a lot. I focus more on my junk pitches so girls don't know what's coming. I use my drop curve a lot."

Kenzie moved up to varsity for the postseason as a freshman and the next season batted .469 with 16 RBI, 14 doubles and 35 runs scored. As a junior, she batted .349 and scored another 35 runs.

Kenzie played third base when she was younger but moved to middle infield at Groveport and since has become entrenched at second base.

"I like the challenge of testing my range up the middle," Kenzie said. "It's more challenging than being at third and having the ball hit or bunted right at you."

The sisters both work at the Specialized Bicycle Components distribution center in Groveport and will be roommates in college. Ally will major in accounting and minor in marketing, while Kenzie is unsure of her major but plans to minor in business.

According to Kenzie, the fact that she and Ally are twins helped their recruitment to Fairmont State.

"They just really liked the energy we brought," Kenzie said. "As soon as went to a (prospects) camp, some attention was on us. Us sticking together, working together and pushing each other, the coaches thought that would be good for the team."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave