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Whittier softball twins, Carole and Jaylene Ross, twice as talented

With two college scholarships in hand and a successful three-and-a-half-year high school career behind them, Whittier High School’s Carole and Jaylene Ross are ready for the next step – well almost.

Before the Ross twins take off for college, they are preparing like most any other high school senior athlete these days – by themselves without a team and in their yard.
That 3 ½ year career, of course, referred to the current situation we are all in right now.

Jaylene, who goes by Jay, is sad for her parents who will miss out on senior day. “It sucks because I know my parents were looking forward to senior day.”

Carole, who along with her sister is a team captain, said – “It’s tough. When we were freshmen on varsity, they (seniors) showed us how to be role models. Now we miss that.”

Carole already had her walk-up song for her mother picked out for senior day – “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts.

And, like most senior athletic families, it hits home hard. Real hard.

A mother’s sadness for her daughters came out emotionally as she thought of what they have lost in their final year of high school.

“We made it through the whole senior year just about and we conked out the last four months,” said their mother, Crystal Ross. “For me, we’ve gone all this way and it’s always been (about) graduation, the Prom, senior year. For me it’s heartbreaking, because if they don’t graduate……..”

She had to stop and regroup, as no doubt the four years of high school and all the memories of their activities flashed back in an instant.

“Sorry,” she said, composing herself. “What can we do? It’s a world issue, not an us issue. It’s everywhere right now. We’ll get through it again and they are here and healthy, alive and well and that’s the positive thing.”

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Twin seniors, Jaylene (left) and Carole Ross field ground ball from their father, Jason Ross, in the front yard of their home in Whittier on Tuesday April 6, 2020. The twins keeps their skills up as they prepare for their Division 1 college softball scholarships. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)

 

Since there probably won’t be a high school graduation, Crystal pointed out a moment in four years that will be very special to all of them.

“At the end of the day they are going to college and there will be a college graduation.”

The Ross family, with dad Jason, mom Crystal and the twins’ 11-year-old brother Jason Derek (JD), are a close loving family and sports have been a big part of their life. JD is in fifth grade, plays basketball and hopefully will attend East Whittier Middle School this fall.

Their father, Jason, reflected on what could have been this past shortened season. “This has affected us tremendously,” he said. “Every weekend we would be playing softball and were looking forward to the high school season.

“We tried to look at it positively for our daughters, who got recruited. There are a lot more girls out there who are not being seen right now and not getting playing time.”

A second issue with the twins, is for the first time in their many years of playing the game they so love, they will not be playing on the same team. They’ve always been teammates, except for a few brief months when they were 11. They started playing competitive softball at age 12.

Jay has a scholarship to Texas Southern University in Houston and Carole also has a scholarship to Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Illinois.

“I fell in love with the sport when I was really young and I love playing it,” said Jay, who reflected on the way the season ended. “It’s sad that our season ended the way it did, but everything happens for a reason. I have to work out myself and self determination to get to the next level.

“(Texas Southern) sent me a workout plan that I have to follow with conditioning and fielding and catching.”

The twins, which hopefully will play one last time together in summer ball if it happens, realize this past season was the last time they played together in school. They started playing rec ball when they were eight years old.

“I’m sad that I don’t get to play with her again for the next four years,” said Carole, who plays in the outfield. “But I think it’s good that we’re both going off to different colleges and experiencing stuff for ourselves.”

 

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Jaylene Ross hits a ball fed by her sister, Carole, as they practice in the front yard of their home in Whittier on Tuesday April 6, 2020. The twins keep their skills up as they prepare for their Division 1 college softball scholarships. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)

 

Jay, who is a middle infielder playing mostly at shortstop, said they will miss the constant chatter between the two of them.

“When there is one or two outs, I normally just turn around and we just talk to each other and have mini conversations, so this will be the first time we won’t be able to do that.”

Carole, as twins will do, echoed that, but with a twist. “I mean, I’ve always been in the middle and she’s in the outfield and we just make faces at each other.”

Second-year Whittier head coach Robert Anguiano will miss their dedication to the sport.

“Carole and Jaylene are both four-year Varsity players and also are playing travel ball (So Cal Athletics – McCarthy) during the off-season,” Anguiano said, who also was the Cardinals coach in 2015. “They both work hard on and off the field.

“If there is an opportunity to practice after our regular practice or conditioning, they would. They were both looking forward to this season and were really working hard to compete and maybe making the playoffs.”

 

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Carole Ross hits a ball fed by her mother, Crystal Aceytuno, as her sister Jaylene, waits for her turn as they work out in the front yard of their home in Whittier. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)

 

Their only CIF playoff appearance happened in their freshman year, as they advanced to the quarterfinals. They hadn’t been back since.

Coach Anguiano’s comments on Carole – “Carole has been my captain since I started coaching last year. She was also on the panel during my hiring process and she has been one of my leaders who I can go to when I need to get a message out to the players.

Last season she was our everyday shortstop and she also received our Golden Glove award for her defensive play. This year we needed her to help out at third base. Knowing she wasn’t used to playing that position, she did it. It was a big adjustment from playing the middle of the infield to playing one of the hot corners.

Coach Anguiano’s comments on Jay – “Jaylene is a great athlete as well. She can also play anywhere on the field. She starts in the outfield for us and she also plays catcher for her travel team. She works very hard on the field and demands a lot of herself just like her sister. She either bats first or second in our lineup. She has a lot of power in her swings. She sees the field clearly, and if she knows the corners are deep, she will lay down the bunt without being told too.”

Anguiano again commented about both of their value to the Cardinals program.

“They work hard off the field by putting in the work. There are times when I want to drag the field but I couldn’t because they were hitting ground balls or pop flies to each other till you couldn’t see the ball because it would get dark.

“Jaylene and Carole will be missed by this program and their fellow teammates. I’m looking forward to keeping track of them when they are playing at the next level. Again, I know they were looking forward to competing this year. It’s just sad it had to end the way it did. I know they will grow from this and even work harder than they already do to become a better player for themselves and their teams.”

You can bet, when Jay smiles at shortstop next season at Texas Southern, Carole will smile back from Concordia University Chicago.

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