WEST POINT — When Oak Hill Academy softball took on Starkville Academy on Sept. 15, there was a matchup between the lines bigger than the local rivalry between the Raiders and Volunteers.
Yes, the Vols were trying to secure themselves a playoff spot and the Raiders were trying to further their playoff seeding, but the pitching matchup took center stage.
For Oak Hill, Sara Frances Ramsay stepped into the circle. For SA, Calliope Koiva took the ball.
The two are arguably two of the best pitchers in the Golden Triangle, and they showcased it on that night and a previous matchup in late August.
However, when Ramsay and Koiva face off against each other, it’s just as much about one-upping the other as it is getting the win.
“It’s fun because we know each other as hitters, so it’s a bit more competitive,” Ramsay said. “I think we try and be more competitive to get the best out of each other.”
While opponents during the high school season, Ramsay and Koiva are teammates in travel ball, playing on the 18U team for ShockWave, a local club team.
This past season was Koiva’s first playing with ShockWave, with Ramsay and with any club softball team.
Last year, the two didn’t know each other at all, but quickly, the two formed a close bond both as softball players and as friends.
“It definitely is more business on the field,” Koiva said. “I try to stay focused during the game, but after the game is when we can joke around, especially in the circle.”
Their friendship is a unique one when looking at timing, as Koiva is currently a sophomore at Starkville Academy, while Ramsay is a senior at Oak Hill.
The same is true on the travel circuit as Ramsay’s likely last travel season is this one before she graduates in the spring and heads off to college.
That basically left this high school softball season as the lone year where the two could go out and challenge each other on the diamond.
As strong as their friendship has become, their battles on the diamond have become must-watch events. Ramsay and Koiva know what tendencies the other has as a batter and what pitches they each like best.
“I was kind of nervous coming up against her,” Koiva said. “We both know how we both pitch. I knew what her strengths and weaknesses were. We want to outdo each other. If I strike her out, she’s going to want to come back and strike me out. If I get a good hit, she’s going to want to get a good hit.”
Friendships between players of different teams can often create the best mental battles in sports. Like Koiva and Ramsay both said, they know how each likes to pitch and how each likes to hit.
From that point on, it’s guessing where one will go compared to the other, where one will look to throw it, where one is looking to hit it.
The battle of the minds makes players stronger and better in the end, but it’s even more so a point of bragging rights for the future.
However, this year for the two was that much more special being that it was Ramsay’s senior year as a Raider.
“I love playing against her,” Ramsay said. “Last year, I didn’t even know who she was. We’ve become such good friends over the summer. I’m glad I got to play her and know her this year.”
While the two won’t be facing off on the high school diamond anymore, they’ll still be teammates throughout the rest of the travel season with ShockWave, playing tournaments in the fall and through the spring.
Their friendship and ensuing friendly rivalry brought some fun and excitement to the prep softball scene this fall and with Koiva just finishing up her sophomore year, we’ll be seeing plenty more of her and the Vols over the next two years at Starkville Academy.
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