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Ridolfi sisters enjoy time playing for Lady Mustangs

By James D. Horne jhorne@paducahsun.com

Rachel Ridolfi gets the best and most unique view catching the McCracken County softball team's four-strong pitching rotation that includes sophomores Jenny Chapman and Audrey Dodd and junior Neely Quint.

But it's most special when the junior gets to catch for sister and sophomore pitcher Hannah.

"It's different when I catch for her, because I know her and have caught her for a while," Rachel said. "When she's struggling, I can help her because I know her weaknesses, but also can help because I know her strengths. I know when something is wrong and when I need to talk to her or get mad at her to fix what she needs to fix. I know what to do to help."

Hannah says she's always more comfortable on the mound when Rachel is guarding the backstop.

"I've pitched to her for so long because of travel ball so I feel like when I'm doing something wrong I can go and ask her what's wrong and where my ball is breaking if I miss a pitch," Hannah said. "I just feel a little bit more comfortable with her. I mean I'm comfortable with all of our catchers, but I'm more comfortable with her because we're sisters."

McCracken County coach Tony Hayden, who's coaching a pair of sisters on the same team for the first time in his career, said the two are as different as night and day and that he enjoys watching how they interact with each other.

"They are a whole lot different," the Lady Mustangs first-year and former longtime Reidland coach said. "One of them is more serious and the other is more fun loving. But they help each other whenever they can. When Hannah gets in trouble Rachel is there to help her with her pitches. This is the first time I've had sisters this close in age on the same team. I've had them four years apart, but not a year apart. It's funny to see how they function with each other. It's really interesting actually."

The sisters always room together on the road and are used to that because they currently share a room at home on their farm. And both plan on staying together after their high school careers are over.

Rachel has made a verbal commitment to play softball for Union University in Jackson, Tenn., once she graduates and plans to major in nursing.

Hannah also hopes to go to Union and major in veterinarian studies.

So the bond they share on the field is accentuated by the chores they have to do and the life they share once they get home from school or a softball practice or game.

"We have to clean out the horse stalls and that's fun," Hannah joked. "We get all sweaty working that and we have to clean our rooms constantly, but it still always gets dirty. We have our arguments here and there, but most of the time we work it out."

Rachel agreed that having her sister on the same team is both a good and a bad thing at times.

"Sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's not," Rachel said, laughing. "Sometimes I'm glad she's here because I can talk to somebody who knows what's going wrong. Other times I get mad at her and have to tell her to leave me alone and that I don't want to talk to her. But really it's fun being on the same team with her."

Both are excited about the prospects and chances the currently top-ranked Lady Mustangs have in front and share the hopes that it all ends in a state softball championship for McCracken County.

They like the fact they know everyone in the state is gunning for them.

"I think it's cool, but there is some pressure knowing that," Hannah said. "It's cool because we are ranked number one in the state and everybody is coming for us, so that means we get to play better teams. The pressure is there because you are ranked number one. But it's more fun than anything because we're with all these girls. Last year, we were competing against each other and now we're one team trying to win it all."

They know the key to winning a championship is for the Lady Mustangs to play as a complete unit.

"We're having a lot of fun," Rachel said. "We just have to make sure we think about playing as a team and not as individuals. Coming from three different schools is kind of hard because there were a lot of starters last year and now we can have just nine. So we just have to learn to play as a team and know that even when you're not on the field that you're still cheering and supporting each other. We just have to keep coming together as one big team."

Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.

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