Brittney and Lauren Head were in jeopardy of being separated four years ago. Then freshman at Piedmont College just out of Forsyth Central High, the threat was that the twin softball players wouldn’t get to room together when the team travelled.
There was a solution, though: Brittney, a pitcher, and Lauren, a catcher, could restore their travel privileges if both had a great performance in their next game.
So Brittney pitched a no-hitter, and Lauren hit a home run.
"We were pretty tough," Lauren said.
It was a unique connection, 43 feet from the mound to home plate of synergy on the field that came to an end Sunday in the Atlanta Regional of the NCAA National Tournament. The Lady Lions lost 6-1 to host Emory to end their season at 43-8, and Brittney and Lauren’s careers came to an end together.
When their careers started, they aren’t sure - 8, 9, maybe 10 years old? But it was at Coal Mountain Park with the Diamond Dawgs that this pitching-catching tandem of Brittney and Lauren first started.
For it to happen required a bit of humility on Lauren’s part.
"I always like to think that I was better," Lauren said, "but I didn’t have the pitcher mentality. I’m better with a mask over my head."
Over time, both grew into their roles – from the Diamond Dawgs to travel ball with the Forsyth Storm to four years at Central, and their personalities developed with the demands of their respective positions.
Brittney said people call her "the nice twin … the mother figure that wants to make everyone happy." On the mound, she wanted to make her team happy.
"She doesn’t like letting people down," Lauren said. "She’s really good at making it through and fighting through. She’s not one to give up."
Catching required a little more sass from Lauren, according to Brittney.
"That helps her," Brittney said. "You have to be really strong back there. I couldn’t do her job. …She’s got the attitude for a catcher."
By the time they came to Piedmont, Brittney and Lauren were dialed in to each other’s approach to the game. They both studied opposing batters – how they swung, where they stood in the batter’s box – and adjusted pitching location and sequence as the game went on.
But they did it without speaking. Often times, Brittney would begin her delivery before Lauren put down a sign for the pitch. Piedmont’s coach let Lauren call the pitches for Brittney.
"I guess since we’ve done it so long, it’s just routine," Lauren said. "We have the same mindset in games."
Never was that connection more on display than during Piedmont’s run to the USA South Athletic Conference tournament championship. After the Lady Lions lost their opening game, they won six straight to capture the title. Brittney went 5-0 with a 0.36 ERA, allowing just 18 hits in 38 1/3 innings while striking out 30. Lauren hit .357 (5-for-14) with a double and two RBIs.
Now, with their college careers over, Brittney and Lauren are plotting how to keep their connection on the field going. Both majored in early childhood education and hope to get teaching jobs in Forsyth County.
One day, they might coach softball together.
"We can’t be away from each other," Lauren said.