Northwestern Press

Sunday, July 22, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZAnna (left) and Emily (right) Akelaitis have been pitching and catching together long before they became starters on the Tiger softball team. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZAnna (left) and Emily (right) Akelaitis have been pitching and catching together long before they became starters on the Tiger softball team.

All in the family

Thursday, May 3, 2018 by RICH STRACK Special to the Press in Sports

The Northwestern softball team features three pairs of sisters, including the pitcher/catcher combination of Emily and Anna Akelaitis

Trust in family.

Catcher Anna Akelaitis gives the pitch sign to pitcher, Emily Akelaitis. More times than not, the pitch gets the batter to swing and miss or hit into an easy out.

“My sister is very demanding behind the plate,” said Emily. “I trust her 24 -7 because she’s not just my sister, she’s my best friend, too.”

Emily has been pitching softballs to Anna since she was in the fifth grade and Anna was in fourth.

“We’ve definitely matured together,” said Emily, who starts each game on the mound for the Northwestern Lehigh girls softball team, which is on the verge of qualifying for the postseason at 9-8 overall. “We work very well and I rarely shake her off, and if I do she let’s me know not to do it again.”

“I guess you can say I’m a control freak when it comes to softball,” said Anna, who is catching her sister for the first year at Northwestern after years of doing it on their way to the varsity level. “I love catching because I control the pitch and the field. I’m the only player who can see the whole field in front of me.”

Emily has played years of tournament and travel softball, which contributed to her selection to last year’s All Colonial League Team. She pitched Northwestern to the district semifinals with a victory over Wilson. Any time Tiger head coach Josh Zimmerman gives her the ball, she pushes her self-discipline button.

“I love the mental part of pitching,” Emily said. “Actually, I find it exhilarating when the other team heckles me. It helps me keep my composure and focus even more on the batter.”

“We’re usually on the same page when I’m thinking how we can get the batter out,” said Anna. “We might call the right pitch, but like any pitcher, sometimes Emily misses her spots.”

“I can talk to my sister in a way that I wouldn’t to a different catcher,” said Emily. “It’s an advantage too because we go home together so we can talk about what worked and what didn’t after a game.”

“Last year Emily pitched to Brooke Wehr, who was our All-State catcher,” said Zimmerman. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Emily pitching to her sister accelerated the learning curve this season that usually takes a period of adjustment between a pitcher and a catcher. Emily and Anna definitely feed off each other and you can tell they know what each other is thinking.”

Zimmerman’s lineup includes, not one, but three sets of sisters.

Ashley Sisco, currently batting .600, plays first base while her sister Sam starts at shortstop. Kayla Mitman starts at third base while her sister Molly patrols centerfield.

“Having all these sisters is a double edged sword, “ said Zimmerman. “They practice together and eat dinner together. I tell them to leave their family affairs at home and they’ve been great together when they walk inside the lines.”

Speaking of family affairs, Emily said she likes spending time off the field with Anna just “kicking back.” They are not much into sitting around and playing with their cell phones. They’ll play cards or kickball or swim. Their post-high school aspirations are similar, too. They want to have careers in medical fields

Emily and Anna Akelaitis are not only succeeding for Zimmerman’s Northwestern Tigers on the softball field,

They are both achieving straight As in the classroom, too.