Twin sisters Holland (left) and Hannah Coursey have become the faces of the Lanier softball program since its debut four years ago. The two seniors hope to finish their high school careers on the high notes by leading the Longhorns back to the Class AAAA state playoffs. (Staff Photo: David Friedlander)
SUGAR HILL — As identical twins, it’s not hard to figure out how Hannah and Holland Coursey are alike.
Aside from the fact they look alike, the two Lanier softball seniors often play right next to each other in the field, either in the outfield or in the middle infield and their numbers are usually very close to each other.
What the pair share most in common is the fact they have become the face of the Longhorns program since it debuted when the school opened up during their freshman year in 2010.
“I will say people recognize us because they see us together,” Holland Coursey said. “They associate Lanier with ‘the twins.’ But one thing that is great is that we have had (the team’s other) seniors who have come up (through the program since its beginning). So, we’ve all kind of experienced it. We’ve been like a team. But yeah, people know us as ‘the twins’ and ‘the twins at Lanier.’”
It’s no wonder.
Both Courseys have been leaders for the Longhorns both on and off the field since they arrived at Lanier four years ago.
Both have been named to the Gwinnett Diamond Club’s All-County team in one form or another all three of their previous seasons, including one or the other being named Lanier’s scholar-athlete on the team.
And both are playing important roles as the Longhorns (10-13, 4-3 in Region 8-AAAA) make another run for a berth in the Class AAAA state playoffs.
Through the team’s first 22 games, Hannah is hitting .400, including .471 with runners in scoring position, with two home runs, 28 RBIs, 11 doubles, a 1.123 OPS and a .923 fielding percentage, while Holland is hitting .439, including .478 with runners in scoring position, with 11 RBIs, 18 runs scored, 11 doubles, a 1.162 OPS and an .879 fielding percentage.
“They’re leaders on the field. They’re leaders in the classroom,” Lanier coach John Kelly said. “Yeah, they’ve accepted it. They are the face(s) of Lanier. They’re very mature, and you’ve got to think they’ve been starting our starting middle (infielders) for four years. So, it’s not like their coming in as juniors and having to start. They’ve started since they were freshmen in the program.”
While there’s not denying the similarities they naturally share, it’s probably more apt to look at the Coursey sisters more as mirror images, rather than exact duplicates, of each other.
That is literally true at the plate, where Hannah hits right-handed, while Holland is a lefty.
They are also very different types of hitters, with Holland relying more on bunts and slap hitting, while Hannah has a more powerful swing.
And even away from the field, both girls like being defined as much by their differences as they are by their similarities.
“We like to be individuals,” Holland said. “We enjoy dressing different and being different people because we are. We may look the same, but we’re very different.”
Just how are they different?
“I think I’m a little bit more talkative in some situations,” Hannah said. “We both have different personalities. It just depends on what situation we’re in. We have some differences, but there’s not a lot of them because we’re so close to each other.”
One trait Kelly will attest that the two sisters share is a similar sense of humor, something he found out first hand earlier in their career at Lanier.
“It’s taken me two years to get where I can tell them apart without (uniform) numbers on,” Kelly said. “I can tell by their eyes. If you look into their eyes, they’re slightly different. You can tell. But still, sometimes I mess it up.
“They did play a joke on me one time. We were at practice and Hannah gets up there left-handed and starts hitting, and I’m like, ‘You look horrible today. I don’t know what’s wrong with you.’ And all the players start giggling, and I look up at her face, and I can tell that it’s Hannah trying to hit left-handed. So, they’re pretty funny.”
But no matter how pronounced the differences between the two sisters are, they still share the close bond that most twins do.
“Being twins is such a unique characteristic for us because we have gotten more noticed for our ability,” Hannah said. “She’s my other half. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a lot of recognition I have (gotten) because she pushes me to be better, and I push her to be better.”
And as twins, they acknowledge they will always be joined at the hip, in the figurative sense, as athletes.
As has been the case at Lanier, coaches and players down at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, where both have verbally committed to play college softball beginning next fall, are already being referred to as “the twins.”
As they began weighing their college options over the past few years, they realized they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s always been our dream, and we are so blessed that God gave us the opportunity to play (at GC&SU) together,” Holland said. “It was our No. 1 school. We were very fortunate they wanted both of us and not just one of us. Initially, there were some schools that wanted one and some who wanted the other. We had to cross them off the list and say, ‘We want to to go together. We wanted that college experience together.”
As much as they are looking forward to that experience, both Courseys admit they will miss the Lanier community and program a lot.
Kelly says the feeling is very mutual.
“It’s going to be hard,” Kelly said of what next season will be like without the Courseys. “They will be dearly missed, no doubt about it. There’s no person with a better work ethic in the county. Nobody. That’s why they’re as good as they are.”