Family + Faith: Merchant sisters lean on faith, family and softball
Brittini Merchant draws a cross in the dirt with her bat as she steps into the batter’s box to express her religious beliefs.
The junior’s sister has a similar ritual. Macy, in her freshman season on the CMU softball team, draws the number four — her jersey number — in the dirt. Baseball great Lou Gehrig wore number four. It is not a coincidence her best friend’s mother has Lou Gehrig’s disease. Macy wears it as a tribute to her and to a close friend of hers who died in the summer of 2007.
Growing up in a Christian home, the Merchants attribute their talent to God. Both sisters have a Bible verse tattooed to illustrate their faith, and are looking to get a second one this year. Brittini’s quote says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and Macy’s says, “Alive in Christ.”
They also grew up with family being a huge priority.
“We were raised with two main things: faith and family,” Brittini said. “Our source of strength comes from our Lord and savior, with the second source being our family.”
The sisters grew up in Wayland in a family of four daughters that define athleticism. Before Brittini and Macy’s names reached the collegiate level, their sisters were making the family name known in the sporting world. Nicki Cardosa, the oldest daughter, played first base at Ferris State and went on to coach softball on the high school level, and Jessica Merchant, part of the national champion team at the University of Michigan in 2005, now plays for the New England Riptide in the National Pro Fastpitch League and is an assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts.
But Macy said playing with Brittini makes the athletic experience even more meaningful.
“It’s not every day that one daughter of a family gets to play at a Division I college and, yet, we both get to experience it together,” she said.
And while Macy is the freshman, it is quite clear the duo rely on each other. It is a relationship that goes well beyond the realm of the softball diamond.
“(Macy)’s my sister, my best friend, my rock. She’s everything and she’s awesome,” Brittini said of her younger sister.
While siblings often deal with competitive natures and jealousy issues, these issues have not affected the relationship the Merchant sisters share.
“My family is very competitive in everything we do, from playing sports to playing board games, but we still have fun while doing so,” Macy said.
Brittini has started every game in her three-year career at CMU, while Macy is a reserve outfielder with just 24 plate appearances in her first year thus far.
But with Brittini hitting on the right side and playing the infield, and Macy being a slap-hitter who plays the outfield, the girls carry out two different roles for the team, which helps separate them and relax any jealousy issues.
“We’re both striving to get better and to make each other better,” Brittini said. “It’s not a matter of wanting to be better than each other.”
But it is not the first time the sisters have played with one another. They played together at Wayland High School for two years, winning a state championship in 2006.
“We were kind of like a dynamic duo in high school, and everyone knew the Merchant sisters were on the same team,” Macy said.
Brittini was a five-sport varsity athlete in high school, playing softball and basketball for four years each, and playing three years of tennis, two of bowling and one of volleyball.
In 2007, she won Michigan’s Miss Softball and was a Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American honorable mention. She also was named to the all-conference, all-county and all-district teams all four years of softball.
Upon graduating high school, Macy had a track record of her own. She led her team to a 144-21 record over four years and was part of a team that won four conference championships, three district titles, two regional titles and a state title.
In three seasons, Macy also was named first-team all-conference, all-county, all-area, all-district, all-region and all-state in softball.
Macy’s talents attracted scouts to each sport she played — including basketball and volleyball — but, when it came down to it, she made softball choice.
“I love basketball, but I chose softball because I think it had the most to offer me and I thought I cold be most successful at this level,” she said.
Brittini and Macy said they will keep religion, family and softball in their future plans. Concluding her career in softball, Macy wants to go into youth ministry and hopefully coach softball.
“I want to be able to impact peoples’ lives the way I’ve been impacted growing up through coaches, teachers and youth ministry, and I hope to impact kids’ lives using God and what I’ve been taught growing up,” she said.
Following in the footsteps of her older sisters, Brittini also hopes to have a coaching career down the road.
“My sisters and the coaches I’ve had in the past have been very motivational and a positive influence in my life and I hope, someday, I can be the same in someone else’s life,” she said.