A few months ago, Todd Vandercook sent a text message from Florida to his buddies in Sylvania revealing that he and his twin brother, David, would soon be joining them permanently.
He was curious to know what kind of baseball team they'd be joining at Southview. "I thought, all right, a slightly above .500 season," Vandercook said. "And we came up here and this team is a lot better than we thought."
His initial assessment was probably a touch on the conservative end.
Southview won last year's Northern Lakes League title, but the Cougars have since jumped levels, having lost just one game as of last week and broken into the state polls, now at No. 7.
Todd and David are a major reason for the success.
The juniors, who spent their early adolescent years in Toledo and in Bedford Township before their family moved to the South, have provided the Cougars with their No. 2 and No. 4 hitters.
David is also a talented pitcher, adding to the strength of the team behind its ace, Kirk Stambaugh.
Todd, who bats second and plays the outfield, is hitting .421.
David, a third baseman, has five home runs - including two in consecutive innings last week at Bowling Green - and is hitting .319. On the mound, David has a 4-1 record and a 0.97 ERA.
"Talented guys, got a great work ethic, and play the game really hard," Southview coach Ed Mouch said. "They get frustrated when they don't have success but that's pretty typical of a high school kid."
Not typical is being affected with Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. A few months ago, Todd learned he was dealing with Crohn's.
The Vandercooks had long thought of moving back to the area to be closer to relatives.
That became reality this spring, the family having become frustrated with the medical care Todd was receiving near their home in Boca Raton.
They moved during the first week of March - after their team's season had begun - and the boys enrolled in school with their summer league teammates - Stambaugh and Cam O'Reilly.
O'Reilly's father, Mike, and the twins' father, Dennis Vandercook, a former University of Toledo player, were on the same federation baseball team several years back and over the last few summers collaborated to field a travel team, which the Vandercooks came north to play on.
"It was kind of tough, especially your junior year, you made so many friends, and then you're coming up here," David said.
"But just knowing the guys on the team made it easier. They introduced us to some people, so it's a pretty good situation."
Meanwhile, a steroid has helped Todd gain back most of the 30 pounds he lost, although he doesn't expect to regain full health until this summer at the earliest.
It isn't apparent in his statistics, but Todd says the disease has caused considerable muscle weakness.
"I'm still trying to control it [Crohn's] with what I eat," Todd said.
By about a minute, Todd is the elder of the twins. David, though, at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds is two inches taller and 15 pounds heavier.
Their skill sets match their size discrepancies, with Todd hitting for contact and David driving pitches deep.
So comes the inevitable, and perhaps unfair, question: Which Vandercook is better?
"I think we're pretty even," Todd said.
Southview is glad to have them both.
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