The key to success in any team sport lies not just with talent, but also in the players’ ability to work together. This connection between teammates — often referred to as chemistry — is sometimes hard to achieve and hard to maintain, but always tough to beat.
And there isn’t much better chemistry than the Davis High softball team has in batterymates/sisters Ashley and Audrey Dufresne.
Senior catcher Ashley’s skill is not breaking news. Having played varsity softball since her sophomore year, she entered the 2014 season already having smashed 36 hits, collected 31 RBIs and belted eight home runs in a Blue Devil uniform.
Audrey, who is a freshman this year, has been forced into the role of front-line pitcher for DHS, which is light on circle options.
Between their talent on the field, and their strong bond off it, the Dufresne sisters give the Devils (7-11, 2-1 Delta Valley Conference) an edge over the competition.
“It gives me an advantage when I pitch,” Audrey says. “I love Ashley’s feedback out there and it really helps me to get out of my head.”
Ashley’s leadership extends to the entire Davis team, but it is especially helpful as young Audrey goes through the ups and downs of a high school softball season for the first time.
“Audrey knows how to feed off her big sister, and Ashley really knows how to calm her down,” says Blue Devil coach Art Guerra, whose team will host Granite Bay in a nonleague game Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. “Ashley lets her sister know when to be a 14-year-old, and when not to be. She’s very supportive, but also cracks the whip when she needs to.”
But, like all siblings, the pair gets into its share of arguments. However, unlike some sisters, these two Blue Devils say the disagreements usually end up serving to help each of them get better.
“Me and (Ashley) bicker all the time; it’s been that way since we were born,” Audrey explains. “But good ideas, and sometimes better play, come out of it.”
And it helps that the two have similar light-hearted personalities that can help each other, and their DHS teammates, remember that one of the squad’s goals is to have fun.
“They are goofball kids, and I mean that in the absolute best way,” Guerra says. “They know when to crack a joke, and they know when to be serious. “
A recent trip to a Devil softball practice reveals that Guerra isn’t the only Davis coach that likes what the team has with this dynamic duo. Assistant David Reuben is the Dufresnes’ self-proclaimed biggest fan, boasting that they are “the best sister battery in the history of Northern California.”
While that might be hard to prove, Reuben does know exactly why they are so successful:
“Because they are sisters, they think the same way, which is great for chemistry.”
Audrey, who attends ninth grade at Holmes Junior High, has a fan club that includes Guerra, Reuben and three other Dufresnes. Parents Mike and Mindy — both teachers at Holmes, Mike in history and Mindy in P.E. — are at every game. And her catcher likes what she sees as well.
“I expect Audrey to go far with softball,” Ashley says proudly. “She’s young, but already a leader and I expect her to go far, even through college.”
Guerra knows that the performance of his all-Dufresne battery will go a long way in determining if DHS returns to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. And with the Blue Devils relying so heavily on just two pitchers, Rachel Mobley and Audrey Dufresne, the skipper is still confident.
“I hate to say it, but someday Audrey might become the better player of the sisters,” Guerra says. “For now, though, we really need them both.”