‘We’re like sisters’
By Steven Hoffman
In Oxford’s 6-4 win over Unionville last week, Abbey O’ Connor and Gianna Coyle were right in the middle of all the action—as usual.
As the top two hitters in Oxford’s batting order, they were getting on base, driving in runs, and starting rallies. They also anchored the team’s up-the-middle defense, turning in good glove work at shortstop and second base.
The Hornets have come to rely on the steady contributions from the talented tandem over the last four seasons.
“They are a big part of our offense and a big part of our defense,” explained Josh Socash, Oxford’s head coach. Socash said that he’s been lucky to be able to pencil in Coyle and O’ Connor in the lineup the last few years. Both players reached the 100-hit plateau during their careers at Oxford, and during the senior season they are both hitting above .500.
“They hit one and two in the lineup,” Socash explained. “I also think they rival any two middle infielders in the Ches-Mont League.”
Their on-field success has been bolstered by an off-field friendship that started when Coyle and O’ Connor were just eight years old. Their families moved from Delaware County to Oxford at around the same time, and soon after that they met on the softball field. They’ve been teammates on the softball diamond, with one team or another, ever since.
“We're like sisters,” O' Connor said. “I don't remember the last time that we were really apart.”
They played Little League baseball together in Oxford. The 11 U team that they were on won the district championship and qualified for states. As they got older, they were on the same middle school softball team and a travel ball squad. When they got to high school, they were teammates on the Hornets’ softball team, too. Their friendship has certainly helped them as teammates. As middle infielders, they’ve been able to turn a handful of double-plays this season, which is difficult to do.
They’ve also liked batting close together in Oxford’s lineup. As top-of-the-lineup hitters, they’ve helped boost Oxford’s offense and set the table for the heart of the batting order. One of their most noteworthy accomplishments was reaching 100 hits in their career at Oxford. Coyle reached the milestone first, and O' Connor followed about ten games later.
O’ Connor said that they both take a lot of pride in their defense, and one highlight for them has been turning double-plays.
Their teamwork even translates to other sports. Coyle explained that they also played on a basketball team together.
Next month, O’ Connor and Coyle will join their classmates and graduate from Oxford Area High School. In the fall, O'Connor is headed to the College of Central Florida, while Coyle is going to East Stroudsburg University. But before that, they would like to achieve a few goals. They would like to help the Oxford softball team win their division and earn a playoff berth.