Sister, sister: Twin softball players go head-to-head

JenKat2013uni Identical twin sisters Jenny and Katie Obbema both play softball, but attend SF State and Humboldt State. Photo by Becky Obbema / Special to Xpress

For the first time in their entire lives, identical twin sisters Jenny and Katie Obbema went head to head, pitching for opposite teams at Humboldt State over the weekend: Jenny for SF State, and Katie for Humboldt.

At first, they both planned to attend SF State, but for Katie Humboldt State suddenly became an option, and everything fell into place last minute.

“We’ve always been each other’s best friends, always had the same group of friends and did everything together,” Katie said.

When they left to go to different colleges last year, it was the first time since birth that the twins were apart for longer than a single day.

“It was hard for us as parents to think ‘Wow, they are going off into different directions,’ but they went off to become their own people,” their mother, Becky Obbema, said. “As a result, it brought them closer together as twins and as sisters.”

The Obbema’s have always been an athletic family. Their mother played softball growing up and their father played football at UCLA. The twins found their passion for softball during their early T-ball days, following in their mother’s footsteps.

“We’ve grown up doing the exact same thing, playing sports together and going to the same school, but it is a good thing to be apart,” Jenny said. “We are able to do our own things and and not have people assume ‘Oh you’re twins, so you have to do everything together.’”

The sisters’ competitive side really came out when they both got on the mound, this time for opposing sides.

“We definitely both encourage each other to do good,” Katie said. “But it makes the game a lot different — now I’m trying to beat my sister and she’s trying to beat me.”

Jenny echoed her sister’s thoughts, “Even though she’s on the other side, we both want each other to do well,” she said. “But there is always that part of you that thinks, ‘Aw man she’s doing better than me,’ and makes you want to go out and prove yourself.”

As for their parents, they’re not exactly sure what to do about their daughters pitching for different teams now.

“Last year, my parents cut two shirts down the middle with our school colors, then sewed them back together,” Jenny said.

The shirts were half Humboldt, half SF State. But Katie said her parents were definitely quiet during this game.

“When it comes down to it, it is hard,” Becky said. “We’ve chosen to be neutral and not cheer for the team, but for the daughter.”

Their father Rick Obbema said the game was exciting for everyone in the stands. “You don’t see identical twins pitching against each other very often.”

For the game he sported a neutral, gray sweatshirt.

“I had to sit there with duct tape over my mouth — it was hard keeping quiet,” he said. “My palms were sweating, it’s nerve wracking.”

He said he was so nervous that he kept a bottle of Tums nearby to ease his stomach at every inning.

“I never get a break. First one daughter is up there pitching, then the other,” he said. “I’m always on edge — I want them to do well.

But he got through it without any ulcers — yet.

“We’ve still got two more years of this. I’ll go buy stock from whoever owns Tums because I’ll be buying a bunch of those in the years to come,” Rick said.

So far, the sisters have figured out how to make the distance between them work and they said they are seeing each other as much as they can.

“Katie really found a home at Humboldt and Jenny at SF State,” Rick said. “It’s been a fun ride so far.”

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