Sisters start for softball

Ben Fitch

Lindsey and Lauren Himpel, the outfield duo, seem to be two identical rocks outside the diamond—both being nursing majors and 14 months apart in age. The sisters have been playing softball together since they were old enough to walk, or at least since tee ball.

Their dad coached the team, which was an in for Lauren. She was four years old at the time and not old enough to play tee ball. But she did anyway.

“It’s been a natural progression of things,” said Lindsey.

Lindsey started as a middle infielder and moved to the outfield when she was 14. Now they play right and center, and most days the sisters get along.

“Some days we have little fights in the outfield,” said Lindsey.

When Lindsey was in need of a helmet and had to be on deck in a hurry, for example, she ripped off her sister’s helmet, inadvertently snagging her nose. Lauren said she laughed about it.

“It’s different things,” she said. “If one of is doing bad, we might make a smart comment. It’s because we know each other’s true potential. And she knows she can be brutally honest.”

The Tonganoxie High School graduates were both first and second all-area team picks in the Kaw League, Kansas City Star and Lawrence Journal World. Lauren, now a freshman, was a perfect 32-for-32 in stolen base attempts as a junior in high school. Lindsey, sophomore, also played volleyball for four years and was a three-year letter-winner.

“They’ve taken on big roles,” said coach Lisa Carey, “They play like upper-classmen. They are really students of the game.”

Carey used to have them bat one and two, but now Lindsey bats in the two hole and Lauren bats in the five hole.

“Lauren is a great contact hitter and she can get the bunt down,” said Carey, “and Lindsey has power too.”

But the outfield is where the game is played for the Himpel sisters.

“Obviously it’s where the coach needs us,” said Lindsey, “but the chemistry is more in the outfield since we’ve played together for years. We have a better understanding of each other’s abilities.”

“I like the outfield because you can do things that nobody knows you’re doing,” said Lauren.

She once ate a hotdog in the outfield during a summer ball club when she was 16.

“And nobody knew,” she said.