Even with her powerful pitching arm, Riverside-Brookfield High School senior all-state softball standout Hannah Organ finds extra strength peeking over her right shoulder.
Sophomore sister Emily is the Bulldogs’ second-year starting shortstop.
“I absolutely love it. Emily’s like my best friend and even though she’s younger, I look up to her,” Hannah said. “There’s no one I’d rather play with. Her being behind me is just a really good feeling.”
One of the state’s best sister combinations begins their final postseason with the Bulldogs (12-10, 7-5 in Metro Suburban Red), the No. 5 seed of the IHSA Class 4A Marist Sectional.
“They’re just a huge leadership [boost] and when Hannah’s pitching, the team is calmer and more into the game,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said.
Emily is hitting .432 with 26 runs batted in. Limited by stiffness in her left knee, Hannah is hitting .562 in 18 at-bats with 12 RBIs and has 27 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched.
“There’s been ups and downs with her not being able to play a lot, especially this season because it’s her senior season,” Emily said. “Every moment — practice, games — just the little things are fun. Knowing that we have each other’s backs and just being there for each other, it shows a lot during the games.”
Their diamond bond began in Forest Park T-ball as two of the league’s few girls. In traveling softball, Emily would be promoted to Hannah’s team and still has occasionally for the Chicago Cheetahs.
“Having problems with my knee and not being able to play every single game kind of makes me appreciate the other moments a lot more,” Hannah said.
Anticipating Senior Day on April 19 as a four-year varsity starter, Hannah still was sidelined. She was at third base for the opening pitch and then left the game.
“It was hard, just knowing and seeing everything behind the closed doors, seeing how hard she’s worked,” Emily said.
During the off-season, Hannah sought to improve her physical and mental strength. Emily helps with encouraging, or perhaps humorous, words.
“Most of the time it’s just to cheer her up and get her to laugh, even if she hates me for saying whatever I say,” Emily said. “She’s definitely a go-getter and fierce competitor. She’s always on the mound with this attitude whoever steps on the plate she’s going to get them out.”
Hannah appreciates Emily’s efforts. Emily has taken that approach beyond their sisterhood to the entire team.
“She just has a leadership presence and feel with the team, which I really admire,” Hannah said. “I feel like we kind of play off each other. If I’m having a rough day, she kind of picks up my slack and vice versa.”
Hannah will play at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and hopes to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She verbally committed last October, immediately after coach Kirin Kumar offered a scholarship.
“She explained more and I was like, ‘I’m in,’” Hannah said.
Emily also hopes to play college softball. After two more seasons, she should join Hannah among the all-time RBHS softball greats.
“I hope that I’ve left a mark, not necessarily playing but just kind of the way I presented myself,” Hannah said. “I hope people have looked up to me and acknowledged the hard work. I see people like [Emily] and [sophomore catcher Zoe Levine] and they are so much better than I was at their age. I want them to realize they can play at the next level, too.”