A little confidence can go a long way. For identical twins on the Spartan softball team, it has taken them to freshman years they won’t forget.
Lindsay Thomas entered the final week of the regular season with the highest slugging percentage on the team, as well as the most home runs, 14. She’s co-leader for the conference in homers. When the season began, it wasn’t clear how much she’d play – and she didn’t have so much confidence at first. Then she locked in. “After the first couple of games, I was good,” she says.
When one of your home runs ricochets off the Spartan statue beyond the center field fence, that’ll put a spring in your step.
Nicole Thomas, her sister and pitcher, talks about confidence too. She got roughed up against hard-hitting Chattanooga. The next opponent she faced was the No. 25 ranked Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. She was on the mound; sister Lindsay was catching, calling the pitches. One sister throwing to another, just like in their high school days. Nicole settled down. “I decided I need to focus on what we can do – not who we were playing.”
She pitched three scoreless innings, ultimately giving up only one earned run in 4 2/3 innings total. She had her groove back.
They’ve played since they were little and their parents were looking for a sport to tire them out. “She used to dance. I did gymnastics,” Lindsay recalls. “In high school, she did volleyball, I did cross-country. We always did softball together.”
The California tandem never really considered going to separate colleges. They chose UNCG. Their mom flew cross-country to see one mid-season home stand. They’ll welcome their dad, unable to get away during tax season, for the SoCon Tournament.
So what’s it like to have a pitcher-catcher conference at the mound with your twin sister? “She might not like (my saying) this, but I am not afraid to tell her what’s happening,” Lindsay explains. “If she gets mad, it’s like, ‘I’m just trying to help you.’ And she won’t get mad, you know?”
Nicole sports a 5-1 record on the mound. Her 2.92 earned run average (ERA) is second best on the team. “Her change-up is dirty,” first-year Spartan Coach Janelle Breneman says. “That really keeps hitters at bay and off balance.”
Heading into the final series of the regular season, the team sported a 34-16 record, their best overall mark in a decade.
The Spartans host College of Charleston May 4-5 and the SoCon Championship Tournament May 8-11. (See their schedule at uncgspartans.com/sports/sball/2012-13/schedule.)
Nicole calls her team “talented and driven.” She adds, “We’ll do what it takes to get the win.”
As Lindsay says, “Once you get us energized, it’s hard to stop us.”
By Mike Harris
Photography by Chris English