Rivals and fans

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Turpins looking for one more season of juggled schedules, happy messages

By John Herndon

The debate on who is the better diamond performer, Jeremy Turpin or his younger sister, Courtney, might never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, but there is little doubt about the president of Jeremy’s fan club.

“He’s going to get a base hit,” Courtney says as she conducts an interview during the Anderson County-Danville baseball game on May 7.

At the time, the Bearcats were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Danville pitcher Duran Elmore had been giving the Bearcats fits, but Jeremy strode to the plate.

Courtney obviously wanted to suspend the interview while her brother took his cuts. She leaned forward to get a better view from the baseball press box at Anderson County High School.

Elmore went into his herky-jerky motion, kicked high, then delivered another off-speed pitch. Jeremy Turpin ripped it between short and third for a clean single.

“Told you,” a beaming Courtney Turpin said before anyone could comment. “Told you he’d get a hit.”

Jeremy Turpin came in to score when Jacob Russell blasted a home run to give the Bearcats a 4-1 win.

Such is life inside the first family of the Anderson County diamonds these days. We’ll leave the debate whether Jeremy Turpin is the best player on the Bearcat baseball team to others. Cases can be made both ways.

But what we can say is that if he makes the 30th District’s all-tournament team this week, it will be his fifth selection, a record that is likely to stand a long time at Anderson County. Before the season, the slick-fielding shortstop was named one of Kentucky’s 50 best high school players.

We’ll also leave the debate about Courtney’s place on the Lady Bearcat softball program to others, but there can be little doubt concerning her contributions. She’s also on track for five all-district selections and some believe she should be first-team all-state. At the plate this year, she’s belted seven home runs, apparently an Anderson single-season record, and one of the top 25 performances in state softball history.

“Sometimes we give him a hard time when Courtney has done something special, but he just laughs it off,” says Anderson baseball coach L.W. Barnes.

“She hits the ball harder than anyone I have ever seen play softball,” Jeremy says, showing the fan club is a two-way street. “When she’s on (as a pitcher), she is unstoppable.”

Courtney is also one of the state’s top pitchers, winning over 20 games the last two years, when she became the Lady Cats’ ace. Because underhand is the natural pitching motion, she is often able to log many innings in a week. At last year’s state tournament, Courtney threw 33 innings in two days, which is really nothing new for a top-notch pitcher. For the last two years, her earned run average has hovered around 1.00, despite the fact that she is not considered a an overpowering pitcher.

She relies on hitting spots and changing speeds, rarely hitting double figures in strikeouts.

Not that she can’t do that, of course. Her fastball has been clocked at 64 mph and if the need arises, she reaches back for a little more, then blows some heat past the batter.

While it would not count in a game situation, Jeremy says such a fate could never happen to him. Discounting the notation that the Fox show “Sports Science” recently concluded that hitting a softball is more difficult than hitting a baseball, Jeremy grins, then boasts, “I would hit her over into that subdivision,” pointing to the houses well beyond the Anderson softball field.

“I can strike him out,” Courtney says with her own huge grin.

For the record, Jeremy was hitting .361 through games of last Wednesday, but had an astounding .522 on base percentage and had stolen 17 bases. Thursday, he hit his first home run of the season at Boyle County.

While Jeremy blazed the trail by cracking the Bearcats’ starting lineup as an eighth-grader, Courtney was only a year behind, splitting time between the pitching rubber and first base until moving to the circle almost exclusively last year. She also made the all-district team as an eighth-grader.

But while the colleges have been curiously slow to warm to Jeremy – several small colleges in the state are most interested – Courtney is seen by some as a big-time prospect.

She defends her brother and believes he need not listen to those to try to compare.

“I don’t think there is extra pressure (on Jeremy),” Courtney says, before back-tracking a bit. “It puts more pressure on me to do better because he’s done so good.”

The most pressure might be on their parents, Cindy Searcy and Harold Turpin, who juggle schedules that can have the players in different places at the same time. During last year’s regional softball final at Oldham County, Harold stood by the fence with a cell phone stuck to his ear as he got a play by play of what was happening in the baseball final at Henry County 20 miles away.

It was a reminder of a hard lesson. “I learned the first year they were playing to get unlimited minutes,” Harold Turpin laughs.

The bill that convinced him? “Almost $400,” he said.

It should be easier next week when both the baseball and softball regional tournaments are held at the Shelby County Athletic Complex. The fields sit next to each other and what could be a parking nightmare for some should be a dream come true for the Turpin family.

“I know I will like that,” Cindy Searcy said last week.

In the meantime, one of the state’s best sibling rivalries will continue in full force.

“It’s not a rivalry. We just try to out-do each other,” Jeremy says.

Not a rivalry?

Sounds like one of the definitions Merriam-Webster gives for “rival,” the verb: to try to equal or excel.

“They are very competitive in everything they do,” Harold Turpin says.

“They try to be the best. “There is a rivalry but it’s friendly.”

He relates a recent story. “Two or three weeks ago, Jeremy was in little (hitting) slump, so we came to the cage. Courtney came by, just grinning, and said, ‘Need me to help?’”

“They do push each other to be the best they can be,” says their mom, Cindy Searcy. “They even do that to their little sister, Cheyenne. They are critical of each other and they don’t hold back when one has a bad game. They pretty much tell each other that they played horrible. Courtney will often times give Jeremy some ‘hitting instruction’ and Jeremy will laugh at her. However, if it is a big game and one doesn’t do very well the other is always there to encourage and help pick them back up.”

Over the next few weeks, the last ones that Jeremy Turpin will be wearing a Bearcat uniform, there will be plenty of big games, much cheering, many phone calls and text messages.

“He’s the first one I text,” Courtney says when asked about news of her home runs.

“I would be at every one of her games if I could,” Jeremy says. He admits to sometimes wondering how his little sister is doing but, “I try not to think about it.”

“Last year at Spencer County when they both were playing in the districts at the same place with slightly different starting times, Jeremy hit a homerun,” Searcy says. “I heard screaming and cheering and looked over toward the softball field where Courtney was standing on top of the bleachers cheering for her brother. Then vice-versa, when Jeremy’s game was over he rushed to the softball field and was right on the fence yelling and cheering pitch by pitch for her.”

Just keep winning.

And leave the debate to someone else.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.