If you see the following numbers on the infield during the Payson girls softball playoffs at Rose Mofford field in Phoenix, you know sister speak will work its magic — Megan Wessel, No. 5; Kaitlyn Wessel, No. 11; Taylor Petersen, No. 12; Payton Petersen, No. 8; Ari Paulson, No. 1; and Arissa Paulson, No. 10.
Taylor, a senior, usually quietly surveys the situation from behind the batter as catcher.
“I gotta know the game,” said Taylor. “When the batters step into the box ... I get a feel for if they might steal or bunt.”
In her position, Taylor eyes the field and regularly communicates with her pitcher, often played by Ari.
“I see that Taylor supports the pitcher,” said Juliedon Petersen, the mother of Taylor and Payton, “I see her walk out to the mound and talk her down.”
Taylor admits she communicates regularly with the pitcher, but she and her sister Payton also have silent sister speak between themselves.
“We know what each other will do,” said Taylor.
Her sister Payton, a sophomore, covers third base. In an infield position, she works with Taylor to keep the scores low.
Both girls have spent many years driving up and down the hill to Phoenix to play on club teams. Their parents support them playing as much softball as they can.
It has paid off for Taylor, who will attend the College of Southern Idaho next year on a softball scholarship.
Although the Petersen sisters have played softball since middle school, both sisters say this year’s team has a cohesiveness and connection they have not seen in the past.
Taylor attributes some of that to the moment of prayer the team has before each game.
“It’s what our team is known for,” said Taylor. “Umpires from other teams will say, ‘This is the team that prays.’”
The Wessel sisters agree.
“I think it gets our hopes up and helps us to focus better,” said Kaitlyn. “We know we are in this together.”
Both girls say this year’s team has something special about it.
“We have trust and faith in each other,” said Kaitlyn, “even though we’re not from the same family.”
Yet part of that specialness could come from Kaitlyn and Megan being twins.
Legendary in its mystery, twin-speak helps the two girls, who play first base and shortstop, stay on the same page.
“It just takes a hand motion to tell her to get her butt down or focus,” said Megan, who plays shortstop.
“We communicate with just a look,” said Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn and Megan have played softball since the seventh grade. They too spent time in the Valley playing club ball during the summer.
Both the Petersen and Wessel sisters agreed playing in the Valley helped to prepare them for the playoff competition.
Both sets of sisters agreed that Empire from Tucson will be the team to watch out for in the playoffs.
“They are No. 1 and we are right behind them, “ said Megan. “We don’t know how they work on the field.”
To prepare, Kaitlyn said the team will have to trust their time practicing and drilling will have prepared them.
“It’s all elemental — you gotta be ready for them,” said Kaitlyn. “And no errors. We try to have no errors, but we haven’t got there yet.”
The other sisters, Ari and Arissa Paulson could not be reached for comment, but both the Petersen and Wessel sisters said the two girls fill in the pitching and second base slots perfectly. Sometimes, the two Paulson sisters will rotate on and off the pitcher’s mound.
Watching the team, a bystander can’t help but notice the cheers of support the team gives each other.
“The louder we are in the dugout and on the field, the better we do,” said Kaitlyn. “We need the fans to be loud for us, too. That will help us play.”
All playoff games will be at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix. Payson’s first playoff game is at 8 p.m, Friday, May 3 on Field 4.