Bitter high school rivals become teammates, friends and contributors on Simpson softball team


by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

It’s kind of a stereotype in culture today that when girls dislike each other, it’s not just a casual distaste for the other person. It’s downright hatred.

Freshman softball players Brianna Chaplin and Taylor Davis fit under that stereotype in high school when facing each other on the diamond. Chaplin is from Indianola while Davis played at nearby Carlisle. 

“We hated each other in high school,” Chaplin said.

The two aren’t afraid to harken back on their perceptions of one another in high school.

“I heard a story from my roommate,” Davis said. “So, my roommate was here at orientation and she was like, ‘Oh, my roommate is Taylor Davis! She plays softball here.’ And Bri was like, ‘Good luck!’” 

Even Davis’ sister Abbie has a bone to pick with Brianna, known by her teammates as Bri, who robbed Abbie of a home run in high school.

“It’s still talked about,” Chaplin said. “It’s still a sore subject for Abbie. Those were good times.” 

Davis got the last laugh, beating Chaplin and the Indianola Indians in the regional final game to go to state.

Despite the bad blood, the two ended up at Simpson College. During fall workouts and practice, the two freshmen still didn’t care for one another.  

But time has a funny way of healing things, and through the 2014-15 school year and season, the two realized they had more in common than they thought. 

“We have the same personality,” Chaplin said. “So we really can’t fight each other. We are just really mean!” 

“Bri doesn’t have a filter so I turn my filter off when I’m with her,” Davis said.

Both shared the experience of coming in during the fall not knowing a lot of people, feeling the weight of expectations to perform while having to find the confidence to compete.

“When I first started playing with the team, I was really nervous,” Davis said. “There was lot of pressure. The girls took me under their wing [though]. The biggest thing is just trying my hardest as a freshman for the seniors, as it’s really important to them.”

“I felt the same,” Chaplin said. “Because they had two seniors and a junior who play outfield, I just expected to come in and hit, which I’ve been doing.”

The growing pains have created equity between Chaplin and Davis who, just as they didn’t expect to find friendship together, have also found playing time during a season they thought would be junior varsity ridden.

“I actually thought that I was going to be playing a lot less,” Davis said. “I thought that I was only going to play JV as we have so many good girls on the team.”

As it turns out, Davis and Chaplin have been right in the mix of the team’s 26-8 going into their doubleheader with the University of Dubuque on Tuesday, Apr. 21.

Davis has racked up 65 at-bats, appearing in 25 games, largely at shortstop, while Chaplin has entered 18 games, getting into the game primarily as a pinch-hitter.

In just 28 at-bats, Chaplin has homered twice, hit five doubles and accumulated 12 RBI, hitting .286 with a team-second best .679 slugging percentage. 

Davis, a multimedia journalism major from Carlisle, is third amongst Simpson infielders in assists with 33 while hitting .262 with 10 runs and 17 hits.

“Right now, Davis has been playing in the field and has definitely played well at shortstop,” head coach Henry Christowski said.

In high school, Davis was highly acclaimed, being named First Team All-State as a senior and third team as both a sophomore and junior. Davis contributed to Carlisle’s softball success even as an eighth-grader, taking the Wildcats to the state tournament five years in a row.

Often playing the position of DP (designated player) Chaplin added to her RBI totals in a double-header sweep of Loras College, driving in one runner with a double.

“I’d say my role on the team is the supporter and pinch hitter, but I like cheering on the team,” Chaplin said.

“Chaplin has a tremendous amount of power,” Christowski said. “If she meets a pitch in her zone, she can send it a long way.” 

The Indianola native came in as an outfielder and has actually taken some innings at catcher on the junior varsity team, a place she doesn’t necessarily hope to stay at.

The role of pinch-hitter is working for now, as she’s hitting .308 in that role while going 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position. The pressure hasn’t fazed her either, going 5-for-9 with two outs.

But above all, her moment against Central College at home this season was her favorite so far.

 “The grand slam versus Central was my best moment,” Chaplin said.

Although they lost that game, Simpson has turned things around, winning their last four games going into Tuesday’s doubleheader with Dubuque, with just four more regular season games remaining on the schedule after Tuesday.

Christowski envisions both Davis and Chaplin being right in the midst of Simpson’s playoff push the rest of the year and in the coming three seasons. 

“Both of these freshmen have been big contributors,” Christowski said. “Both of them have been really positive for us and have a pretty bright future in our program.”

So whether or not the two wanted to be mentioned in the same breath coming into Simpson, they are now; and they don’t seem to mind it.

“We cool now,” Chaplin said.