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Seniors Jineane (left) and Janelle Williams have made the transition from Arizona to Bemidji and are among the leaders of the Lumberjacks softball team. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Williams sisters making the most of their senior seasons

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BEMIDJI - Jineane and Janelle Williams have always enjoyed playing softball and this year the twin sisters are making the most of their senior seasons with the Bemidji High School team.

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"It's been a tough transition coming from Arizona to Bemidji, especially in the winters," Jineane said. "But it's getting better and it's been a fun senior year."

Janelle bats fifth and plays third base for the Lumberjacks while Jineane can be inserted anywhere from third to sixth in the batting order and defensively handles left field.

"These have been our positions for a long time and we always have been on the same team," Janelle said. "The two of us always know what the other one will do and we work together well without ever having to think about things."

BHS coach Brad Takkunen is grateful that their father, Zane, took a job offer here and that the sisters moved to Bemidji.

"Janelle and Jineane are talented players. They both play solid defense but their strength is hitting," Takkunen said. "They have a presence at the plate. They swing hard, make contact and put the ball in play

"On Tuesday in our 5-1 win over Duluth East Janelle ripped a 3-run home run that was a game-changer and Jineane followed with a triple."

"I'm a senior and I try to be a leader to the younger kids," Janelle said. "Our team has many younger players and if they learn things now they will be better players when they get older."

Jineane and Janelle moved to Bemidji as sophomores and immediately cracked the starting lineup. Their offensive roles have been the same since the first day of practice: get on base and knock home runners when they get the chance.

"Both have flirted with a .400 batting average every year and that's because they hit hard line drives and hard ground balls all of the time," Takkunen said. "The ball always seems to come off their bats with power and whether it's a ground ball, line drive and deep fly ball depends upon the plane.

"Both Jineane and Janelle are kids a coach can count on."

"When we first came to Bemidji I wanted to show that I was from Arizona (Glendale) and that we knew how to play softball," Janelle said. "The adjustment from Arizona to Bemidji was very hard and I don't think I'm still fully adjusted.

"But I think it was a great move for us from a school perspective," Janelle continued. "I know I am more focused academically and on the softball diamond."

In the winter, however, both sisters continue to be out of their comfort zone.

"I don't do anything outside," Janelle said about the winter season. "It's way too cold."

Jineane shared that cold-weather philosophy.

"I just stay indoors," she said.

Winter is the furthest thing from their minds right now, however. Helping the Lumberjacks succeed on the diamond is their main concern.

"Offensively we are a state-caliber team," Jineane said of the Lumberjacks who will take a 7-3 record into today's game at Fergus Falls. "And it feels as if we are back on track now after losing those three games in a row."

"We're getting better with each game," agreed Janelle. "We are learning from our mistakes. When we rallied from being down 9-0 Saturday and won 13-11 (against Tartan) I think we came together."

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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