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Time Apart? Who Needs It

Perry-Shifflett twins, Megan and Samantha, propel Hayfield softball team to 9-2 start.

Megan Perry-Shifflett remembers the day well, not so much for its significance but for how it made her feel. When she was 12 playing on a summer travel softball team, Megan Perry-Shifflett went to practice without her twin sister, Samantha.

Samantha Perry-Shifflett was at home and sick, and the moment produced a rarity for the pair: separation.

“When she was sick, I had to go to practice alone and it felt weird,” said Megan Perry-Shifflett. “We were doing infield and outfield, and she’d always be at third base and I’d be at second. Whenever we’d make a play to third, I would usually see her, but she wasn’t there. I was like, ‘Thanks a lot Sam for leaving me.’”

Megan Perry-Shifflett, the younger of the two by virtue of about four minutes, was kidding.

But these days, between high school softball at Hayfield, travel softball with the Fairfax Blue Jays and the fact that both run indoor track and field during the winter to stay in shape for softball, the Perry-Shiffletts, like most twins, aren’t apart all that often. The twins even share a lunch period and three of their seven classes during the school day: math, science and multimedia design.

“We hang out 24/7, literally,” Samantha Perry-Shifflett said. “I know it sounds like a ‘twin thing,’ but we never really split up.”

With bright red hair and matching glasses, the Perry-Shifflett twins are two of the most polite and affable teens that one could meet. They’re also two of the most talented softball players around, setting four school records during the 2008 season when they were freshmen.

<b>INFIELDERS BY TRADE,</b> the Perry-Shifflett twins started up the middle for Hayfield last spring, with Megan Perry-Shifflett taking care of second base and Samantha Perry-Shifflett right next to her at shortstop.

The positions changed a bit here and there because of various injuries, but the one thing that did not was the twins’ collective performance at the plate. Megan Perry-Shifflett broke three school records last season with her .561 batting average, .623 on-base percentage and a .737 slugging percentage. Samantha Perry-Shifflett, meanwhile, broke the school record for walks with 14.

Because Hayfield graduated its starting catcher from last season, Kelsey Talbot, Samantha Perry-Shifflett has moved away from her sister, taking over the catching duties from Talbot while Megan Perry-Shifflett has moved from second to short.

So far this spring, Megan Perry-Shifflett is hitting .400, reaching base at a .514 clip and slugging .600, with her twin sister not far behind at .370, .486 and .519, respectively, while also earning a team-best seven walks.

“They’re a good foundation for the team that we can build around, and that’s very important to us,” said 12th-year coach Ron Giovannucci, who team was 9-2 entering Wednesday night’s home game against Annandale. The game ended after this edition went to press.

“They’re never negative, always upbeat. It’s just a pleasure coaching them,” Giovannucci said. “They work hard. They never goof off. They have a good work ethic. And they always seem to be an inspiration to the team. They get along with everybody so well.”

<b>THE TWINS</b> have been a major part of why the Hawks are battling South County at this point for the Patriot District title, but they’re certainly not the only part. Senior pitcher Jennifer Windau, a four-year starter, has been working to put a rather large exclamation point on a successful career.

In 11 games thus far, Windau has gone 9-2, tossing 67 innings and allowing only 28 hits. She’s only walked 13 batters, has struck out 114 and carries a tiny ERA of 0.80 -- all of this while developing into the team’s top hitter. Batting in the No. 3 spot, Windau has hit a team-best .529 and leads the team in doubles (4) and RBIs (13).

Using a revamped screwball to go along with her curve and fastball, Windau has kept nearly every game close for Hayfield, holding 10 of 11 opponents to four runs or less and seven of them to one run or less.

Part of the reason for Windau’s success at the plate, though, has been the protection she has hitting behind her. Giovannucci regularly bats Megan Perry-Shifflett fourth, forcing teams to give Windau pitches to hit in exchange for hopefully pushing the team’s most powerful bat to the next inning.

And guess who’s protecting Megan Perry-Shifflett?

“They like being back to back like that,” Giovannucci said.

Go figure.