Brothers and sisters that play starring roles for their respective high school tennis or golf teams are common. It’s much the same in basketball and soccer with brothers and sisters often playing similar positions.
Baseball and softball would seem to be two more sports that are a natural fit for siblings, but it’s surprisingly rare to see a brother and sister combination as pitchers for their high school team.
One of the exceptions can be found at Chapel Hill: senior Justin Anthony is a right-hander on the mound for the Tigers’ baseball team and sophomore Camryn is a lefty hurling for the softball team.
“My Dad and I would throw the ball around and she would come to my games,” Justin said of their younger days. “She was always hanging around.”
They eventually started playing catch, even though that meant Camryn using one of Justin’s right-handed gloves.
“We got her a lefty glove once she got serious about it,” said her father, Donnie Anthony.
But as Camryn approached middle-school age, she started to show more interest in playing for a team.
“I think Justin made me want to be a pitcher because he was really good, and the team would count on him,” said Camryn. “I liked that.”
Donnie, a lifelong baseball fan who was a high school pitcher in Ahoskie, noted the similarities and contrasts between the siblings.
Both are tall and lanky. Justin stands 6 feet 2, and Camryn is a quarter-inch shy of 6-0. Both rely on location and breaking balls rather than a fastball as their out pitch.
The difference is composure on the mound. Donnie says Justin has the poise required to develop the craft of a pitcher versus a thrower, while Camryn is more “intense.”
“I’m working on keeping my emotions in check,” said Camryn.
Justin leads Chapel Hill (19-5) in wins with his 6-2 record. His earned run average of 1.73 is bet- tered only by Tyler Hansen (4-0, 0.40) and Nick Elston (5-0, 1.68).
Anthony allowed no earned runs in baseball wins over Person, Webb and Southern Durham, and he gave up a single earned run in a 5-1 win over Cedar Ridge, where he struck out 11 and walked one.
Even in a pair of one-run losses – 6-5 against Northwood and 4-3 at Orange – Anthony struck out (7) more of the batters he faced than he walked (4).
Anthony plans to attend UNC-Charlotte and is considering trying to make the team as a walk-on candidate.
Chapel Hill’s softball program, with only a few travel ball players, isn’t as traditionally strong as the school’s baseball team, so errors and unearned runs have contributed to Tigers’ 6-11 record.
Two pitchers from one family may help the Chapel Hill baseball and softball coaches consistently fill out their lineup cards, but it can be challenging on the parents. Starting baseball pitchers throw once a week, while softball pitchers can throw almost every game. On the days when both are on the mound simultaneously, it means walking back and forth between the baseball and softball diamonds.
“We have done that many times,” said their mother, SuLin Anthony. “At some schools the fields are close, and we can move back and forth.”
But Chapel Hill isn’t one of those convenient baseball-softball campuses.
“The Chapel Hill fields are wonderful, but they’ separated by a soccer field and a parking lot,” SuLin said. “It’s a good hike between them. We can spend 10 minutes going from one field to another and can miss a couple of good plays.”
Camyrn, who has long attended Justin’s games, recently has requested one change in the family’s spectator routine when Chapel Hill’s baseball and softball teams have separate playing times.
“She makes a big point now that Justin has to come to her games when he has time,” said SuLin with a laugh.