When freshman pitcher Jennie Ritter tagged along with her sister, Meghan, to a summer league tryout, she simply planned to watch. One does not generally anticipate what a significant impact such a seemingly trivial decision could have on her athletic career when she is six.
And when Jennie learned that a younger team was short a few players, she decided to follow in her sister’s recently imprinted footsteps and join the team.
More than a decade later, the younger Ritter decided to, once again, tread the path that her older sister carved out when she came to Michigan last fall.
While attending the same school as her sister might seem like the most logical step, the Ann Arbor native maintains that this is not why she decided to become a Wolverine.
“Meghan being here didn’t really affect my decision to come here,” Jennie said. “I mainly decided on Michigan because of coach Carol Hutchins. I went to a lot of camps here when I was younger, so I got the chance to get to know her a lot better. I’ve only heard good things about her from Meghan.”
Despite the fact that having an older, wiser sibling at school wasn’t Jennie’s primary motive for remaining in Ann Arbor, she feels that she made the right decision. Meghan has provided her with guidance in all aspects of life at Michigan.
“She helped me out a lot with my workload and showed me how to balance softball with academics,” the freshman said.
The older Ritter has also assisted her sister in making the transition from high school to college ball.
“The competiton here is undoubtedly harder than any I’ve experienced,” Jennie said. “We rarely play a team that isn’t good. I guess the biggest change is that I have to be so focused. There’s really no room for slip-ups.”
One might think that with the sisters vying for time in the same, highly competitive position, they might harbor some animosity, or perhaps have a secret desire for the other to develop tendonitis, or another ailment that would keep her out of the running for pitcher. But the Ritters have managed to rise above childish rivalry.
“There’s never really been a lot of competition between us,” Jennie said. “I guess we’re just extremely supportive of one another. I’m happy when she gets to pitch, and she’s happy when I get to pitch.”
This type of support seems to be a hallmark of the Ritter family, as the girls’ parents also spend a significant amount of time watching their daughters’ games.
“They haven’t missed a game yet,” Jennie said. “Not even the away ones. They saved all of their vacation days and scheduled them around games.”
The hundreds of hours that the Ritter sisters have logged together thus far this season might make them a little edgy at times. Once again, these sisters contradict the norm.
“We hardly ever fight,” Jennie said.
It is clear that Jennie has a great deal of admiration for Meghan.
“We played together in high school, and I definitely missed having her around for the last couple of years. It’s been a privilege to play with her.”