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Weber State softball players Faith Hoe (10) and Lauren Hoe (24) speak after a play at home plate during a game against Northern Colorado in April 2023 at Wildcat Softball Field in Ogden.
ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics
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Weber State second baseman Faith Hoe runs the bases during the Big Sky tournament championship game against Sacramento State on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Ogden. (BRIAN WOLFER, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
BRIAN WOLFER, Special to the Standard-Examiner
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Weber State catcher Lauren Hoe frames a pitch in an NCAA Tournament regional elimination game against Lehigh on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner
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Weber State second baseman Faith Hoe (10) swings at a pitch in an NCAA Tournament regional elimination game against Lehigh on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Seattle. (JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner)
JUSTIN J. JOHNSON, Special to the Standard-Examiner
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Weber State’s Lauren Hoe hits a pitch during a game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Wildcat Softball Field in Ogden.
Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics
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Weber State catcher Lauren Hoe, left, and pitcher Addie Jensen embrace after Jensen struck out the final batter in an 8-0 win over Northern Colorado to win the Big Sky Tournament on Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif.
Photo supplied, Big Sky Conference
It’s hard to imagine there being a time when Faith Hoe and Lauren Hoe aren’t tying up their cleats, grabbing their gloves and suiting up for Weber State softball. The fifth-year senior sisters from Washington have become synonymous with the team, mainstays on the diamond with Faith at second base and Lauren behind the plate.
Wednesday’s Big Sky Tournament first-round game will be Faith Hoe’s 207th contest as a Wildcat; only Sara Hingsberger (216 games, 2014-17) has ever competed in more games in a WSU uniform in any sport. Lauren Hoe will play game 191 (sixth most) on Wednesday.
“I still refuse to give into the emotion of it right now, there’s so much I need to focus on with my energy through the conference tournament,” WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone said Tuesday about reflecting on the twins from Walla Walla. “But they’re priceless. It goes way beyond the field.”
Legacy is a key tenet of Amicone’s program. Every player each season is asked to consider what they plan to leave behind to impact the program, and how they will “leave the jersey better than they found it.”
Amicone’s evaluation: Faith has impressed upon the program being gritty, playing through being banged up, how to command an infield and how to conduct yourself off the field and in the classroom. Lauren’s legacy is compassionate leadership, consistent and solid effort, and proving yourself and earning your role.
Faith is the more fiery of the two twins.
“Yeah, I’m the outspoken one,” Faith said. “I have this fire because I know we’re good, so when we don’t play well, that fire comes out. I’m the first to say something stupid.”
She feels her legacy is “we’re going to beat you and we’re also going to be the nicest team out there. You can’t hate us because we’re so nice, we love each other, but we’re going to compete, there are no breaks at all.”
Lauren leads with her heart.
“Inclusion. I hate when people are divided or there are cliques, things like that. I want everyone to feel included and feel love from me in that kind of way,” Lauren said. “Pressure is a privilege, and that’s how it is at Weber, but focusing on having fun with it, doing it together, do it with love and then just letting the competition take place, the chips fall where they fall.”
Lauren feels her legacy, with her sister, is creating a culture across sports at Weber State where athletes support each other and attend each other’s games. They both helped launch a Fellowship of Christian Athletes club at the school, and Lauren says her goal has been to live so “people can see Jesus in us.”
Weber State is home now for the Hoe twins; they wish it could be forever.
“Some people want the biggest school they can go to but here, we’ve really been understood,” Faith said. “Coaches have given us leadership and we can be somebody here. We can have a say in things. That’s one of the coolest things about Weber, they trust us.”
“For us to fall in love with the school was awesome, but for the school to fall in love with Faith and I was even better,” Lauren said. “Knowing we were able to impact the culture of student-athletes here, the way we’re connecting and supporting each other, for a school to ask us to help with things like that, giving us a bigger role than just playing our sport, has been the coolest thing ever.”
The Hoe sisters, and fellow fifth-year seniors McKell McCuistion and KC Whiting, have played an important role this season because it’s been one where the Wildcats — dominant in the Big Sky for enough consecutive years that it’s hard to keep track of without consulting a record book — haven’t won like they’re accustomed to.
Unexpected injuries and transfers made for somewhat of a whiplash from last year’s 38-12 campaign that saw WSU softball grab a three-seed in a four-team NCAA regional — which may never happen again for a Big Sky team — to this season’s 12-30, fifth-place finish. For every player, it’s included position changes, changes to their spot in the batting order, or changes to how pitchers are used to be more effective.
“It is all about the life lessons softball, or any sport, can present,” Amicone said. “For all the things that have taken place this year, I’m really proud of this group. There were so many unusual things … That’s what life teaches us. It is challenging, but there’s a lot more with their relationships and their leadership and being a great teammate that they have really embraced.”
Those seniors have been crucial in not letting results derail what the program is about, Amicone said.
“They’re expected to be a great teammate and a leader. Whether that’s McKell switching from first to shortstop, it doesn’t matter. They want to do whatever they can do to show that they’re fighting for their team.
“We were fortunate that we had key players who passed on that legacy to this group. You don’t control the outcome, you control your effort. There is frustration that’s going to happen and change is going to happen. This is just part of it.”
Favorite memories for each of the Hoe sisters were fairly consistent, going back to the 2019 NCAA regional at UCLA when both were freshmen. They described the lowest of lows and highest of highs that season, and a team that wasn’t overpowering but was scrappy.
Lauren Hoe launched a three-run home run to spark a six-run second inning in a win over Cal State Fullerton in that UCLA regional — the first and still the only NCAA tournament win in Big Sky softball history.
That was only Lauren’s second home run of her career. She’s since hit 29 more since; her 31 career homers are second all-time behind Hingsberger’s 34. Lauren is an All-Big Sky First Team player this season, her second such selection.
Faith is also a two-time First Team selection, was the 2019 conference tournament MVP, and hit .377 last season.
Both took pride in 2022’s run to a three-seed in the Washington regional, and both marveled at the crowd at this year’s Hall of Fame Classic hosted by national powerhouse Oklahoma.
“The Oklahoma game was insane, the first one when we competed a little better. It was crazy, I’ve never played in front of that many people before,” Lauren said. “Just a single hit and the crowd is going wild. It was cool that we were able to quiet them for a little while. (McCuistion) hit a leadoff home run, it was like ‘Weber’s here.’ The ushers were like ‘you had them on their heels, you guys were great.’ That was cool.”
As Weber State plays Wednesday morning against Portland State, the games left are numbered for the Hoes, McCuistion and Whiting.
“Weber State is better off, I’m better off, because they’ve been in our program. They’re ambassadors to everything, on and off the field. They’re amazing human beings who have given 100% to this program and their legacy will live on,” Amicone said. “It will be interesting to see who wears No. 10 and No. 24, that double-zero and that one-one (11), in the future.”