Next time you see Brookfield East junior Emma Megal step into the batter's box against Brookfield Central sophomore Crystal Sicard, notice that they don't look at each other.
"The only thing I focus on is that little yellow ball," Megal said. "I can't look at her or I'd start laughing."
Sicard laughed and agreed.
"I literally can't look at her face or I will start laughing," she said. "We're so close."
Three times this season Megal and Sicard's teams hooked up, with the Lancers winning all three games. But otherwise, the dynamic duo are teammates on their B.A.T.S. select team.
They both were first-team selections on the 2014 All-Suburban Softball Team, and it was not their first rodeo.
Megal made first team as a freshman and was high honorable mention as a sophomore before being a unanimous choice on this season's team in the outfield. She'll be a senior next year.
"It was kind of disappointing (not making first team again last year)," she said. "I was super excited to be back. I was really honored, humbled, a little surprised it was unanimous. I try really, really hard to be the best of the best."
Sicard made the team for the second year in a row and was also a unanimous choice. She'll be a junior in the fall.
"It makes you feel special; all the hard work pays off," Sicard said about her selection. "I work hard."
It's no wonder these teammates have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.
"She's amazing," Megal said of Sicard. "She keeps getting better. She doesn't stay the same. We have played on the same team since U12. We're great friends."
Sicard returns the complement.
"When Emma steps into the batting cage, I think danger," she said. "I know how good a hitter she is. And she has speed. She's a great hitter and I respect her."
The speedy leadoff hitter is the Spartans best player. One of the team captains, she is someone first-year coach Ashley Webber doesn't have to worry about.
"She was always ready on time, going through her own routines and really embraced my coaching style," she said. "She knows what her strengths were and what she needed to improve on."
Megal had played for Webber on the U12 Pride of the Midwest Team, so she was familiar with her coaching style. And, because Webber was an outstanding prep pitcher, her coaching helped her team improve.
"She did a fantastic job," Megal said. "She knew how to interact with high schoolers. She understands the game from our point of view. She gives us her input as a player and a coach.
"She is also a great pitcher and she helped us by pitching to us in practice. To see her curve, her rise balls, it was fabulous, a great experience."
Megal was the top-vote getter among the outfielders by the Greater Metro coaches, as she made all-conference for the third year in a row. She led the GMC in batting (. 535).
"To have the top batting average in conference was so great for me," she said. "With Kelly (Berglund of Menomonee Falls), Rose (Dentice of Divine Savior Holy Angels) and Crystal, to get that high a batting average was great."
Megal is also a sterling defensive outfielder.
"I love playing the outfield; the outfield is my home," she said. "When I have to play shortstop or catcher when someone is hurt, I'm sad. I feel like I'm leaving home.
"My strength is running and I want to be free to run."
Sicard was first-team all-conference this year after being second team as a freshman. She had a 15-4 record with a 1.56 ERA, fanned 173 hitters and averaged only 13.1 pitches per inning.
The Lancers had a solid team, but they wouldn't have had the success (18-4 overall, 12-2 in GMC) they had without Sicard, who put the team on her back.
"I always feel pressure, but I have all the girls behind me," Sicard said. "So I just pushed it behind me. The experience (of her freshman year) helped me.
"But playing select ball helps. It's a different level of competition. It gives me an advantage."
Being as diminutive as she is, Sicard is more of a cerebral pitcher than a power pitcher. She has about nine pitches that she can call on, but she only uses three pitches a game.
"I pitch with movement," she said. "I throw very few fastballs. I don't have a lot of speed, so I move the ball around. I never use the same three pitches the second time I see a team."
Although Sicard is strictly a pitcher with Central, she knows what to do with a bat in her hand, as she had a few walk-off hits this season.
"I think I have a lot of pride in my hitting and it definitely improved since last year," said Sicard, the fifth hitter in the batting order. "I work hard in the batting cage. I contribute.
"Attitude is important. When I go to bat, I have the intention of hitting. I know I should hit it."
As a pitcher, it helps Sicard in the batters box.
"It's about knowing the different rotations," she said. "I think about what I would throw. It's all in the mental part of the game. That's where my focus is."
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