Withee era draws to a close for Lady Vols

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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For four seasons, Bowie softball leaned on the Withee sisters. Twins Maddie and Maggie were depended upon to get on base, drive in runs and pair up to gun down runners at second base.

They also set the emotional tone for the Lady Vols. And in the past, the sisters admit they didn’t always provide positive vibes. Sometimes they brought the drama in a bad way.

“In the past, a lot of times they would argue,” Bowie coach Kari Kitchens said of the senior duo. “This year it’s just totally different. They’ve made it fun for each other.”

The good vibes provided by the Withees helped Bowie overcome a slow start to finish strong in the second half of the District 3-5A season and earn a playoff spot. The Lady Vols lost to Keller over the weekend in the bi-district round, ending the season and bringing the Withees’ high school softball career to a close.

“We challenge each other, but only to make each other better,” Maggie said of the sisters’ improved on-field relationship.

The sisters say the arguments have stopped because they’ve learned how to give each other space when one is visibly upset. And they’ve learned when to refrain from offering unsolicited advice.

“It’s the typical sister. You’re going to know how to do things better than they do,” Maddie said. “We’re definitely more mature now. We realize when we argue it affects the team a lot.”

Dynamic duo

No one would argue that the sisters are anything short of outstanding in the field. Maddie plays catcher while Maggie handles the shortstop duties. Bowie’s defense often benefited from the duo’s ability to combine to get runners out at second.

“It’s a very fluid combination when they’re trying to throw down a runner at second,” Kitchens said. “They know each other so well.”

The Withees also form a formidable combination on offense. Maddie, who bats right, hits for power and average and has been the top batter in Arlington for the past three seasons. She was named offensive player of the year as a freshman and sophomore and was co-player of the year as a junior.

Maggie, a lefty leadoff hitter, doesn’t pack as much pop as her sister. But she did hit her first career homer as a senior. And when Maggie reaches base, Maddie often finds a way to bring her home.

“Once Maggie gets on, it’s almost automatic Maddie’s going to hit her in,” Kitchens said.

This season, Maddie admits her sister’s had the better year at the plate. Maggie led the team with a .536 batting average while Maddie was close behind at .490. They’re so effective on offense that if one of the two had an off night, the team struggled.

“When one of them has a bad game, it’s sometimes hard to recover,” Kitchens said.

But as seniors, the Withees helped boost the team on a nightly basis. Kitchens said they learned as juniors how to play for each other. “Last year was a turning point for them,” the coach said. “They started doing everything as a duo.”

Maggie said she’s learned how to respond when her sister gets an intense expression on her face. “I try to make her laugh because I can tell when she gets mad,” she said. “She gets this expression. And if looks could kill.”

Saying goodbye

Kitchens is parting with 10 seniors. And in the process she’s saying goodbye to a Withee softball dynasty. Before the twins, Kitchens coached their two older sisters. The coach remembers when Maddie and Maggie were 8 years old.

“It’s very emotional,” Kitchens said. “It’s a bittersweet kind of thing. I see them going on to do bigger and better things.”

The pair is going on to Tulsa, where they signed along with friends of theirs from Mansfield Legacy who are also twins, Briana and Brittany Walker. And of course, the Withees plan to room together in college.

Their playing career together is far from over, but both say they’ll miss their seasons leading Bowie to softball success.

“I’ve loved it,” Maddie said. “I’ve really loved it.”

Added Maggie: “I’ll really miss it a lot.”

The duo said they’ve enjoyed being co-team leaders and star players for four seasons.

“I love sharing the experience,” Maddie said.

Added Maggie: “I could not go through it without this girl.”

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