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Chris Murphy, Published June 04 2013

Fergus Falls pitching twins boast unique styles

Fergus Falls, Minn. - If Fergus Falls softball coach Renee Erickson played poker, she would have gone all-in when twins Sadie and Samantha Knudson arrived on the team.

Hard not to bet the house on two aces.

“It’s really nice because of who they are as people, not just who they are as pitchers,” Erickson said. “They are such nice, genuine people, and when one is pitching, the other is cheering for them. There’s no envy. There’s no frustration. They both just want the best for each other.”

They are what’s best for Fergus Falls, as the Otters (14-10) are headed to the Minnesota Class 2A state softball tournament Thursday. The Otters open the tournament against Rockford at Caswell Park in North Mankato, and they got there in large part to the Knudsons’ work on the mound.

It is their differences on the mound that give Fergus Falls an edge.

Sadie, a right-hander, is a self-proclaimed junk pitcher and is generally the starter, having struck out 101 and walked 47 for a 2.00 ERA in 122Xc innings.

Samantha, also a right-hander, shuts the door for the Otters, sporting a 2.98 ERA and a 1.27 with 18 strikeouts in 26 innings behind a harder fastball than Samantha and a changeup.

Opponents sometimes catch themselves napping when Fergus Falls makes a pitching change. They don’t notice unless they catch the new pitcher wearing a different number.

That’s the benefits of having two pitchers that look exactly alike except for an inch or two in height.

“We’re very different when we pitch,” Samantha said. “I’m more confident closing than starting. Sadie sets the table for me, and I finish it. I think we feed off each other’s energy. You notice how much different we are when teams suddenly figure it out after the first pitch when we change.”

Words need not be spoken when the two work together. For example, the time they took a bowl of candy off their teacher’s desk in first grade and distributed it to the class outside, or when they poured a bowl of water on their dad’s heads, no words were spoken. It was just a look and nod with a smile.

On the mound, although they are alone, there’s still that bond between twins.

“When she comes into the game, there’s no doubt in my mind she will finish it the way I started it,” Sadie said. “It’s nice having that person that you rely on come in and finish the game. Pitching brings individual qualities to us. If we pitched the same, it wouldn’t be as fun.”

As for gifts from grandma, those are always a reminder that they are twins.

“It is kind of irritating when our grandma doesn’t ever get us different gifts,” Sadie said.

But the positives outweigh the negatives.

“Being a twin is like having a best friend beside you all the time,” Sadie said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548