ORONO, Maine — They are sisters, roommates and pitchers for the University of Maine’s softball team.
One is a right-hander and the other is a lefty.
The Bogdanovich sisters, Alexis and Erin, are products of an impressive athletic blood line.
Their late grandfather Ed is in the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame following a remarkable football and track career. His late wife, Lucy (Piacentini), is in the National Field Hockey Hall of Fame.
He became a high school football and track coach while his wife coached high school field hockey, basketball and softball.
The sisters’ dad, Ed Bogdanovich Jr., threw the shot put at the University of Pennsylvania and his wife, Jeanne (White), was a Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team selection in 1977 after leading South Portland to the Class A state basketball title. She wound up having a University of Southern Maine Hall of Fame career.
Their brother, Eddie Bogdanovich, played basketball at Bates College.
“There is definitely a lot of pressure to live up to that athleticism,” said senior righty Alexis Bogdanovich, the ace of the Black Bear staff and already a three-time America East Pitcher of the Week this season.
“It’s good, though. We’re all very competitive. It’s really fun,” she said.
“There was never a question of whether or not we were going to play sports. We started really young and kept going,” said sophomore lefty Erin Bogdanovich. “Our family is very competitive about everything.”
“A friend told us our family has too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” quipped Jeanne Bogdanovich. “We each have our own way of doing things.”
The girls were multi-sport athletes at South Portland High School but softball was at the top of the list.
“They’ve loved softball since they were little kids,” their father said.
As a senior, Alexis pitched South Portland to a state Class A championship in 2010, beating Bangor 1-0 in the title game. Her sister was the freshman center fielder.
They both played soccer at South Portland and Alexis played basketball while Erin ran indoor track.
“I look up to Alexis,” said Erin. “She’s my role model. She always has been ever since I can remember. When we were in high school and I was playing center field, I loved watching her on the mound. Being able to play with her is awesome.”
“We’re competitive with each other but when we’re on the same team, we’re very supportive of each other,” said Alexis. “I’m very excited that she came here.”
Both sisters took roundabout routes to Orono.
Alexis began her college career at NCAA Division II St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, before transferring to Maine. Erin started her college career at Division I Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, before coming to Maine.
“It didn’t work out [at Stetson] so when I received an opportunity to play with my sister, I didn’t want to turn it down,” said Erin.
Their personalities and their pitching styles are different.
“Lex is very quiet. She’s very matter-of-fact. Erin is more colorful. She asks more questions and has more answers,” said Maine head coach Lynn Coutts. “Erin looks up to Lex a lot. I like the fact they’re so different. But they both bring something to the table.”
“Alexis is silent but she’s deadly on the mound,” said Erin.
”They’re different but they’re awesome for who they are. They’re both fun to be around,” said sophomore shortstop Felicia Lennon.
On the mound, Alexis is “very precise in what she does,” according to Lennon.
“Erin has spins a lot of people can’t really hit because she is a tall lefty. They both throw pretty hard. Erin is hard to hit becomes she comes from a different angle while Lex hits her spots very well and has high velocity,” Lennon said.
“Lex pitches more in and out while Erin’s ball breaks down,” said junior catcher Janelle Bouchard from Kennebunk. “Both are pretty calm during a game. With Lex, you couldn’t tell if we were winning or losing. She’s very even keel and it works for her.”
Erin is a little more emotional, according to her mother.
“She has a harder time holding a poker face,” Jeanne Bogdanovich said.
“I’m more of a curveball, screwball thrower,” said Alexis, a former Miss Maine Softball and Maine Gatorade Player of the Year. “Erin throws a two-seam fastball that moves a lot. She’s a lefty so her ball naturally drops.”
They are best of friends.
“They get along great,” said Coutts.
Alexis said they do a lot of the same things together “like watch movies with our friends.”
“We have the same group of friends,” noted Erin.
They said softball is a common topic of discussion.
“We talk a lot about taking it one pitch at a time. We always try to stay positive no matter what the situation is,” said Alexis. “It’s good for us to have each other.”
Alexis is off to a terrific start.
She is 6-3 with a 1.57 earned run average. She has struck out 71 and walked only five in 67 innings.
“Lex has been so consistent. She goes out and does her job every time,” Coutts said.
“I didn’t anticipate this,” said Alexis. “It know it’s my senior season, I’m just giving it everything I’ve got and seeing where it takes me.”
Erin is 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA but she is coming off back surgery she underwent last May. She pitched just 7⅓ innings last season due to her back issues.
Coutts said this is essentially “a freshman year for Erin” because of her back problems last year.
“We’re looking for her to move the ball a little more. We’re looking for a little more consistency from her. She’ll get there. She’s just not there yet,” she added.
“I think they’re both going to do very well this year,” said Maine senior second baseman Kristen Koslosky. “Lex is having a great year and Erin is going to have a good year, too.”