Kylee Holderied knows when she’s on the mound all of her teammates on the Fairfield Ludlowe softball team have her back 100 percent — no questions asked. Whenever a ball heads toward left field, Holderied knows she’s in especially good hands with her older sister, Luka positioned there.

“I trust everyone on this team to do well, but having your sister out there, it’s a different connection,” Kylee Holderied said earlier this week. “If the ball goes to her, you know she’s gonna get it or at least try her hardest to get it because she doesn’t want me to have that problem.”

The Holderied sisters have hovered near the center of Ludlowe’s rise from sleepers last spring, to potential contenders in the ever-competitive FCIAC in 2019. Ludlowe improved to 5-2 with a 9-2 victory over Ridgefield on Wednesday.

Part of the reason why the Falcons earned the “sleeper” tag in 2018 came down to their roster was devoid of seniors. Even so, they reached the FCIAC semifinals. In 2019 Ludlowe features only one senior, Luka Holderied and her importance is felt both on and off the field.

“(Having a senior) brings a little bit more maturity to the team,” Ludlowe coach Lou Bunosso said. “It’s good to see someone who’s in their last year who can handle softball, high school and looking at colleges all at the same time. It gives them a little perspective on what to look forward to next year when we’ll have about six seniors.”

The elder Holderied works as a calming presence in the dugout.

“Luka is like, the easiest person to go up to whenever you have a problem,” said junior captain Elizabeth Doolan, who’s batting .368. “She’s always very understanding. She’s always there and you know that. Having her as a senior, she’s a great outfielder, she’s a great team player, she always makes you laugh. So when you’re down in the dumps or make a bad play or strikeout she’s the first one there to pat you on the back.”

The sisters both function as captains and leaders. They’ve been playing together since their elementary school days, often on teams coached by their father Kurt.

Early on Luka Holderied sensed Kylee had talent on the diamond, but it didn’t really take off until high school when she started making waves.

“I’m proud of her,” Luka Holdereid said. “I hope she goes somewhere with it.”

Kyle Holdereid is 4-2 with 35 strikeouts in 2019. Last year she held opponents to an .201 batting average and earned all-FCIAC second team honors. She’d like to play in college, but her choice of school will be more academic-driven than softball driven.

“Kylee is just the biggest fighter every single time she steps on the mound,” Doolan said. “She gives it 100 percent. She’s great in team huddles. She’s always positive. She’s like her sister, she always picks you up when you’re feeling down. She’s just kind of like the essence of what Ludlowe is. She’s very kind and hard-working. She’s great at what she does.”

The Holdereids have an older sister, Zoe, who’s in college and a younger sister, Tatum, currently in eighth grade. Luka and Kylee realize this season is likely their last chance to play together for the immediate future, but they’re taking it in stride.

“I kind of want to go out with a bang, for her as the only senior. This is my last year with her,” Kylee Holdereid said. “I played volleyball with my other older sister so it was really weird when she left. It’s going to be odd next year being a senior, but not having her here. I’ve always liked having the older people on the team to look up to and follow. Luka has served as a great person for that because she’s a positive person. She’s just a great girl to have on the team.”

Other Falcons off to strong starts this season include Caitlyn Romero, who leads the team with a .421 average with 10 RBIs. Ira Boci is batting .350 with nine RBIs. Allie Clark is at .400, while Margaret Nolan checks in at .333.

Wherever this season ends, Luka Holdereid knows Ludlowe softball is pointed in the right direction.

“It’s just going to go up from here,” she said. “The incoming freshmen will be really good. The last couple years we haven’t really lost anyone, we’re just gaining more.”