A few years ago in a travel softball game, Christie Falcon didn’t feel like taking her turn in the batting order.
Her teammates gathered around her in a quick huddle so that Christie could secretly switch jerseys with her identical twin, Catie.
“I said: ‘Yeah, I want to hit,’ ” said Catie, who added that the maneuver fooled the umpire, their opponents and even their dad.
Christie and Catie, now 18-year-old seniors at Coral Gables High, don’t give away at-bats these days, and both are excellent hitters as evidenced by the fact that they each made first-team All-Dade last season.
Christie bats leadoff, and Catie hits cleanup.
But it’s what happens on defense that makes them even more special. Christie is Gables’ top pitcher, and Catie is the starting catcher.
It’s rare to find a starting battery comprised of twins, but it is working exceptionally well for Gables (13-7), the top seed in District 14-8A that will play American on Tuesday in the opening round of the GMAC tournament at Palmetto Bay Park.
Last year, the Cavaliers went 22-5 and reached the regional final for the first time in school history.
Gables coach Natalie de la Vega Carreno, a former Cavaliers pitcher, said this year’s team is just as talented — and the Falcon sisters are a big reason why.
“They have both started for me since their freshmen years,” the coach said.
“I’ve been working with Catie on how to read batters and how to read the count, knowing when to throw changeups. She has been calling her own games since last year.”
Calling games suits Catie. Although she is younger by one minute, she has the more assertive personality.
“Her character is stronger than mine,” said Christie, who at 5-2 is one inch shorter than her twin. “I’m more scared to be mean. I lead by example. Catie is more of a leader vocally.”
Entering the week, Christie was 10-6 with a 1.42 ERA, allowing 20 earned runs in 98 2/3 innings pitched and striking out 181. At the plate, she has a .443 batting average with four home runs, 14 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
Catie entered the week with a .381 batting average, 19 runs scored, 19 RBI and five triples.
Christie went 17-7 with a 1.40 ERA last season, striking out 217 batters. She also hit .400 and is Gables’ most consistent hitter, according to her coach.
Catie, who hit .500 with 25 RBI, is a power hitter and “the best defensive catcher in the county,” according to her coach.
Both have earned scholarships to play Division II softball at Rollins College, which is located in the suburbs of Orlando.
Christie plans on becoming a veterinarian, and Catie is interested in nursing.
At Rollins, the twins hope to continue their pitcher-catcher, on-field relationship.
“We have an awesome connection,” Christie said. “She knows exactly what I want to throw. I rarely shake her off.”
Off the field, the girls share a room, their wardrobe and the same friends, and they’re never mad at each other for more than a day.
“As a twin, you always have someone to talk to that you trust,” Catie said. “But you have to earn your individuality.”
• Note: All games are at Palmetto Bay Park.
• Tuesday’s schedule — Quarterfinals: Coral Gables vs. American, 3; Northwestern vs. Palmetto, 3; Southwest vs. Hialeah Gardens, 3; Coral Reef vs. Goleman, 3; Semifinals: American-Gables winner vs. Northwestern-Palmetto winner, 6; Southwest-Hialeah Gardens winner vs. Coral Reef-Goleman winner, 6.
• Wednesday’s championship: 6.