For the better part of the first two decades of their lives, Kansas University softball sophomores Maggie and Rosie Hull were known simply as the Hull twins.
Where you saw Rosie, you saw Maggie. And where Maggie went, Rosie usually was close behind. This held true on the softball diamond and basketball court, in the classroom and church, out with friends and while being honored for their achievements.
During their junior year at Free State High, Maggie tore her anterior cruciate ligament while playing basketball. A few weeks later, Rosie tore the same ACL while filling in for her sister. Talk about close.
That’s starting to change a little, and, as the Hulls prepare to embark upon the follow-up to wildly successful freshman seasons at KU, they’re starting to appreciate their differences.
“The coaching staff really does see us as different players, which is just so awesome,” Rosie said. “I can’t overstate how important that is to us and our performance. Throughout our life, a lot of coaches have kind of coached us together. Her mistakes were my mistakes, and my mistakes were hers. I think that happens a lot to twins.”
It’s not happening any more. A year after hitting back-to-back in the batting order and playing side-by-side in the outfield, the twins are being split up by KU coach Megan Smith.
Rosie, who led the team with a .350 batting average last season, still will hit in the leadoff position and will be asked to slap to get on base. A few spots down, in the six-hole, Maggie will swing away and try to produce runs.
Realizing her role would change, Maggie told her coaches she would work on her hitting in order to stay in the lineup. A few months later, at the team’s first fall-ball game, she hit for the cycle and ripped a grand slam.
“After that game, I thought, ‘Well, I guess she wants to play,’” Smith said.
On some levels, this is the equivalent of turning the PBJ into two sandwiches. But their desire to play is all that matters. Twins or not, top talents or not, Maggie and Rosie just want to be involved. They want to be pushed and pulled, praised and appreciated just like the rest of the team. If that means being treated as individuals first and twin sisters second, they’re fine with that.
“As we’ve come to college, our differences have become more clear,” Maggie said. “Even some of the girls on the team will say, ‘You guys are nothing alike.’”
Added Rosie: “The differences between us, and the way we’re kind of splitting seems very natural. It doesn’t seem unnatural to me that we’re different players because we’re very different people, too. And, in our heads, we’ve always been that way.”
Different majors, different hairstyles, different personalities and a new year. The 2011 softball season, which opens Friday in Jacksonville, Fla., has the potential to be the most memorable of their careers. Although the world they once knew is changing, the attitude that got them here remains the same.
“All the fun I’ve had and how blessed I am to be at KU, I’m basically just in awe,” Rosie said. “It’s still kind of crazy to me.”
Added Maggie: “We’re living the dream.”