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Cole sisters: middle infielders, roommates and best friends
By Jeff Febus
Jeanne and Keri Cole (Fountain, Mich.)

When senior Keri Cole walked off the field for the last time this season, she was sad for two reasons. First, it would be the last time she would wear a Calvin uniform, and second, it would be the last time that she would be able to play collegiate softball with her sister, Jeanne.

The bond between these two sisters runs deep, and it’s been like this since the beginning. “Jeanne and I have always been very close,” said Keri. “Whatever I would do she would do and vice versa. We are not twins, but we almost could be.”

The pair anchored the middle of the infield for a Calvin softball team that finished second in the MIAA with an 11-3 record. Keri, the second baseman, finished the year batting .288 with 10 RBIs. For her career Keri batted .308, collected 13 extra-base hits, notched 46 RBIs and garnered 42 walks.

Jeanne, a sophomore and the Knight’s shortstop, had a great season as well, batting .314 and leading the team with 11 extra-base hits from the leadoff position. She was named to the All-MIAA first team and also to the Division III All-Central Region second team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Keri has received honorable mention recognition from the MIAA coaches the last three years.

“People probably won’t believe this, but I am so happy that Jeanne is succeeding the way that she is,” Keri said. “I want her to push herself to be the best she can; if she gets her batting average up a little, she has a great shot at being an All-American next year.”

After a very successful high school career Keri wanted to go somewhere where she could continue to play softball. Meeting Calvin coach Amber Warners and her family sealed the deal for the elder Cole.

“I loved the people that I met, and I loved coach Warners. She cared so much about me as a person,” remembered Cole. “She made me feel like I was coming into another family even though I was leaving my family at home.”

When it came time for Jeanne to make her decision about college she picked Calvin, and Keri wasn’t surprised. “We always said that were I would go, she would go. We wanted to play ball together just like we did in high school,” Keri said. “Jeanne was looking at some other schools, but in the end it was Calvin because that was where I was.”

While Jeanne has been a staple at the shortstop position, Keri has moved all over the field — actually four positions in four years. It’s an experience that Keri said has helped her grow. “Whatever the team needed me to do was what I was going to do. Growing up I was always taught to be a team player, and in softball you are only as good as your team, so I had to step it up for my team wherever I was playing.”

Warners said Keri’s versatility was a huge positive for the team. “Keri was one of the few players that I have ever coached that has truly been open to play wherever the team needed her to play,” Warners said. “Instead of fighting it she embraced it and did whatever it took to learn the position well.”

While the two are roommates off the field, it’s no surprise that they are pursuing similar career paths. Keri graduated in May with a degree in special education, and Jeanne is an elementary education major.

Without her big sister on the field next year, Jeanne knows its going to be very different. “It’s going to be hard because she was always there for me in any situation. If she is on the sideline, her presence won’t be on the field, and I feed off of her. We energize each other so when she hits well, I hit well, and when she makes a great defensive play, I want to make a great play.”

According to Warners, the Coles are the entire package of what softball players should be like. “The dream job for any coach would be to coach a team full of players like Jeanne and Keri.”

While collegiate softball is over, don’t think for a minute that the bond these sisters had will disappear. “If we go our separate ways, then I’d hate to see our phone bills,” said Keri. “They’d be horrendous.”