By Jesse Phelps
This year's Nordhoff and Villanova
softball squads are two valley programs enjoying excellent seasons
thanks, in part, to two pairs of sisters. At Nordhoff, the Stoltz
sisters combine to provide the Rangers with power and speed.
At Villanova, the Jenks sisters combine to form a solid battery.
Though the Jenks girls played together as youths, this year marks
the the first time in high school that either pair of sisters
has combined forces on the diamond. Whitney Jenks, a senior,
actually played with Christina Stoltz for a couple of years before
transferring from Nordhoff to Villanova this year.
Whitney says she's much more comfortable since her transfer.
"I like the smaller school, the community of Villanova better,"
The Stoltz sisters began playing about six years ago. Christina,
a junior shortstop for the Rangers, first tried softball in seventh
grade. Sarah, a freshman, catches for the team and started playing
in fifth grade. The Stoltzes say they love the opportunity to
play together. "I think it's really cool because we have
a connection more than the other girls," says Christina.
"Out on the field, we kinda know what each other are thinking."
Sarah agrees. "It's fun because when they're stealing, I
always throw to her," she says. Sarah also says that playing
with her sister provides an inspiration to perform at a higher
level. "Whenever I do bad, she tells me what I'm doing wrong
and then, whenever I'm doing good, she tells me I'm doing good,"
says Sarah. "She's always there. It's always like a competition
between us. If she's better than me, I'm gonna have to try to
be better than her."
The two get along famously, to the point where sometimes teammates
wonder what they're talking about. "People always ask if
we fight a lot," says Christina. "There's always those
little moments but we really get along well. There's jokes that
we have that nobody gets."
For the Jenks sisters, it's just the opposite. Softball offers
them one place where they can see eye to eye. "It's the
one thing we do together where we get along," says Whitney.
Connelly, a sophomore, plays third base and catcher and says
she appreciates having her sister on the field with her. If not
for Whitney, she says, "I would have had to pitch."
Connelly says she prefers catching, because the gear helps protect
her against rogue bats. Just last year, she was struck in the
face during a school beach party pickup game, shattering her
nose and breaking a bone above her eye. "Serious,"
says her dad, John. "And here she is, back behind the plate
a year later."
John is a coach for the team and says, "It's a dad's dream
having the two kids together, playing in high school. It's awesome.
They get together and they encourage each other."
The family affair at Nordhoff also extends beyond the sisters.
Head coach Tom Husted is uncle to the Stoltzes and another uncle
is an assistant coach. "We have another cousin, who coaches
J.V., who played with me my freshman year," says Christina.
And it seems the sister act is, in itself, a family tradition.
"My mom and her sister, Karen, were on the same team together
also," says Sarah. "the Wolters sisters."
Christina plays with her three aunts on an Ojai Recreation Department
league team. She says that when Sarah is old enough, "We're
gonna start a women's league team."
Both say it's rewarding, and sometimes tough, playing for their
uncle. "He picks on me a lot, ask anyone," says a smiling
Christina. "I think it's because it's my junior year."
Husted says he wants to drive Christina because she's blessed
with a ton of natural ability. "I know how good she is,"
he says. "You just want her to get better and better. There's
so many positions she can play and so many things she can do."
He says his goal is to make Christina "think less and react
more" to maximize her talent.
Husted says Sarah's "a classic No. 1 batter. She's got some
wheels, she's a thinker on the bases. She's aggressive, so she's
gonna get a few more outs but she forces the issue."
Husted, who may be slightly biased, says, "They're the best
sister pair in the county, as far as hitting, athletic ability.
You've got one who's an all-CIF soccer player, the other one
probably could be, if she decided to play soccer. Athletically,
they're just above everybody else." He says his own daughter
was all-CIF in two sports and that the Stoltz sisters have the
"same attitude, the same desire. The difference is that
their ability is a little bit higher. These two kids have just
got raw talent."
Nordhoff, 3-2 in league and 8-5-1 overall, is enjoying a four-game
winning streak, partly because the sisters inspire not only each
other, but their teammates as well. "They just keep fighting
harder and harder," says Husted. "Everybody else picks
up on it that you can make a mistake but still keep fighting
and keep wanting to get better."
Meanwhile, across town, Whitney Jenks has pitched not one, but
two, no-hitters this year for Villanova. She says she knows that
her teammates pick her up and make that success a possibility.
"When somebody hits the ball, it's not me in the outfield
fielding it," she says.
The Wildcats are reaping the success that comes with having a
dominant pitcher on the mound. A perfect 4-0 in league, the Wildcat
team is 8-4 overall with losses to the top rated teams in its
Both Villanova and Nordhoff are looking good for postseason berths
and the girls are starting to look at their options for college.
Whitney and Christina, as upperclassmen, say they both hope to
continue playing at the next level. "If I can get a scholarship,
I'd like to," says Christina.
"I would love to," says Whitney. "I love softball
The Ojai Valley News
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