They are siblings and more – teammates, confidants, champions and memory-makers.
The 2019 high school baseball and softball season for the Sacramento region offered a distinct double-trouble look and feel in Placer County when it came to Oakmont and Whitney, powerhouse teams that entered the season with modest expectations and ended it on top of the dog-pile celebratory heap as the region’s top teams.
Versatile and spirited twins Mazie and Makenzie Macfarlane led Whitney softball of Rocklin to its finest season, which included its first Bee No. 1 ranking, it first No. 1 playoff seed and its first Sac-Joaquin Section championship.
The twins are The Bee’s Softball co-Players of the Year, a 1-2 punch that overwhelmed the field.
Brothers Greg and T.J. Nichols provided big hits and big pitching wins in steering Oakmont of Roseville to its first section title in 19 seasons and The Bee’s final-season No. 1 ranking for the first time (the school opened in 1965). The brothers are The Bee’s Baseball co-Players of the Year, too tough to handle singularly and especially when working in tandem.
The Macfarlane sisters are identical. They even share the same laugh, same views on just about everything and same passion of fun.
Mackenzie was reliable at catcher and at third base and Mazie was an infield stabilizer at first base. Whitney finished on top of the best conference in the section – the Sierra Foothill League – and went 26-6 in winning the Division I section banner.
Mazie batted .533 with 48 hits, 26 RBI, 11 doubles, four home runs and 47 runs scored. Makenzie hit .489 with 46 hits, seven doubles, two homers, 35 RBI and 21 runs scored.
“Great players for us who did it all,” said Mike Mello, the Whitney coach and The Bee’s Coach of the Year. “They gave us experience and leadership, and they had fun. They were just amazing to coach.”
The sisters said they enjoyed every bit of their senior seasons.
“It’s been such a blast playing with her,” Mazie said of her teammate twin. “It’s something we’ll always have in common, something we enjoy, something we do together.”
And the good times will continue. The twins will play at Utah State on scholarship starting in the fall.
The Macfarlanes were born a month early, Mazie arriving eight minutes before Makenzie. They grew up sharing everything, especially a zest to compete. They each played four years of varsity basketball and varsity softball.
“We’re the best of friends,” Makenzie said. “Well, most of the time!”
The girls laughingly debate as to who the better driver is, the better student, the better player. Call it a push on all counts. The Macfarlane’s share an old GMC with a personalized license plate that reads their names blended into one – “Makazie.”
The Nichols brothers also grew up as a 1-2 tandem, losing themselves in baseball by the hour – throwing, catching, running, competing.
Where one Nichols went, the other was a welcoming shadow. The brothers were at the forefront of Oakmont’s charge to a 30-3 season, punctuated with a D-II section celebration.
A freshly graduated senior, Greg is off to Sacramento City College. A senior to be, T.J. is committed to Sacramento State.
Greg played shortstop and pitched. He hit .286 with 22 RBI, eight doubles, two homers and 25 runs scored. He went 7-1 on the mound with a 1.49 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. T.J. batted .523 with 45 hits, 20 RBI, 10 doubles and 26 runs. He was 9-1 on the mound with an 0.24 ERA, striking out 91 in 57.2 innings.
“Great players and phenomenal kids,” Oakmont coach Paul Martinez said. “There are no two better kids on the planet than those two. Super teammates, super helpful to other players, awesome students, mature beyond their years. I’ve been around thousands of kids, and I haven’t been around two better than these two.”
The brothers fielded identical 4.0 grade-point averages this academic year, and they also share a set of wheels, an older Honda.
“That’s the only tough part,” T.J. said with a laugh. “We switch off on who drives. Some days, I’ll say, ‘You’re driving!’ and he’ll go, ‘Nope! You’re driving.’”
T.J. added, “The competition between us has always been pretty high. I always wanted to one-up Greg because he was the older brother, to get some bragging rights. But we’re really close. We’ve had a blast. Baseball has always been a big part of our lives.”
Said Greg, “T.J.’s been a teammate my whole baseball career, since we were 8 or 9 years old. It’s been a great time. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have complete confidence in him on the mound, complete trust, and It was fun to always back him up (at short stop).”
And one more from T.J., “We played so much ball on a field next to our house, with our dad (Mike). It was always an outlet. If we had a tough day at school, a tough relationship, we go to the baseball and used it as an outlet. So fun.”