CIAC SOFTBALL: ‘Once upon a time, on a team of twin cousins’

CIAC SOFTBALL: ‘Once upon a time, on a team of twin cousins’

SOUTHINGTON — How often have you thought about your family tree? Quite a bit? Maybe.

Now, how often have you actually gotten a piece of paper and drawn it out to explain how you and your cousins are related?

Probably not a lot. That’s what the internet is for, right?

Now, imagine exhausting all efforts drawing out a family tree multiple times and showing family photos to prove you and your cousin are related.

And people still have doubts.

Maybe that’s because the link between Southington softball pitcher Julia Panarella and Southington second baseman Ali Rembish seems so far out.

“Not a lot of people (know),” said Panarella.

“Nobody believes us when we tell them either,” added Rembish.

Can you blame them? Panarella and Rembish, whose mothers are sisters, were born in the same hospital, on the same day, 30 minutes apart. They were in adjacent rooms and delivered by the same doctor.

“Twin cousins” is their name for it.

They haven’t found an official term for their situation and, even if there was one, “twin cousins” has a nice ring to it.

“We’re in the same friend group and then we play on the same teams,” said Panarella. “It would just make sense for us to be just best friends, but then we tell them we’re family and they’re just confused.”

Panarella and Rembish both have other siblings around their age and they are all close. But the bond between Panarella and Rembish is special. They have been right there with each other for every step of their playing careers, from YMCA tee ball to the Connecticut Eliminators travel team to the Southington Lady Knights.

They were together for the 2019 Class LL state championship. They play for another Saturday against Fairfield Ludlowe in West Haven at 3 p.m.

“For softball, we pretty much do everything together,” Panarella said. “We’ve been on the same team for pretty much our entire life. Even out of high school, we’re on the same travel teams, so I play with her in the summer.”

“We just move as a unit,” a laughing Rembish added.

Off the field, the two are more like sisters than cousins. They don’t have too many disagreements.

“When we do argue, we kind of just get over it like sisters do,” Rembish said. “She’ll be mad at me one second or I’ll be mad at her, and then the next second I’ll just come over it and then she’ll make me laugh.”

“I can’t stay mad at (her) for long,” said Panarella.

The cousins born a half hour apart live just 15 minutes away from one other. That will soon change. By the end of summer, Panarella will be on campus at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, while Rembish will make UConn her new home.

They will be separated by a four-hour drive.

“I think we’re a little in denial about it,” Panarella said laughing.

“We don’t really talk about it much,” Rembish said of the imminent separation. “Whenever someone brings it up we’re kind of like, ‘Sore subject; we don’t want to talk about it.’”

But they know eventually it has to happen and they’re ready for what the future holds. The two are already looking forward to times they’ll share together as college students.

“We’re in the same family, so I know no matter what I’m going to see Ali on all holidays,” Panarella said.

“It’s not like we’re worried about drifting (apart); it’s just weird that we won’t see each other every single day,” said Rembish. “But now, I’m excited to see what she’s going to do with her future.”

Panarella made varsity at Southington when the two were freshmen. Rembish joined her in their sophomore season and the team turned out a state championship.

Now, as two senior leaders, their bond off the field has made it easier for the team to play on it.

“I think it helps everyone because we’re just already outgoing with each other that it just makes us outgoing to everyone else, and everyone gets along well.” Panarella said.

They have one more goal to accomplish. The Lady Knights are 25-1 and riding a 24-game win streak into Saturday’s state final, where they will look to defend the Class LL title they won in 2019 land earn Southington its 19th state softball crown in 24 tries.

“(Competing in) another one, in our senior year? Oh, that’s so exciting,” Panarella said. “Even more hype than the first one.”

“Especially without having our junior year season, I think that we want to even more, so it’ll be super exciting,” Rembish said. “Our team has obviously worked so hard since not only the beginning of the season but offseason too.”

A storybook ending looms for the softball journey of the “twin cousins.”

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