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‘It’s kind of magic’: Kyson, Malachi Witherspoon share inseparable bond as twins

by Cooper Andrews
Thursday, June 20, 2024

‘It’s kind of magic’: Kyson, Malachi Witherspoon share inseparable bond as twins
Identifying who’s who between Kyson and Malachi Witherspoon is a tall order. The curly hair, inviting smiles, playful personalities and flamethrowing right arms make them appear as clones of one another.

Their mother, Meg, resorted to color-coding the twins while they were children. She made bracelets out of embroidery thread, a blue one for Kyson and a green one for Malachi. It shifted to clothing as they got older. If Malachi donned a blue T-shirt, Kyson was draped in white. “Twizzlers” became their nickname, Meg said, an ode to the duo’s innate similarities.

Today, all that distinguishes the two on the surface level is a slight height discrepancy and different chains looped around their necks.

Other than that, though, they’re completely inseparable. In nearly every facet of life.

“We’re lucky how things fell the way they did,” Kyson said. “Finding ourselves with each other, it's kind of magic.”

The Witherspoon twins have embarked on a shared journey throughout their lives that revolves around their baseball careers. An ultra-intensive atmosphere was forged between them while growing up in a single-parent household in northeast Florida. Competing versus each other on Xbox and correcting each other’s pitching mechanics were mere steps toward developing the values they possess today, with an emphasis on taking care of their mom.

Love has always been the motivating factor for Kyson and Malachi. Their main objective is to provide for others. But the purity of their bond through success, failure and emotional ups and downs have allowed them to harness their individuality — sticking with each other every step of the way.

Their latest stop: Chatham, Massachusetts. And this time, they're both wearing Angler blue.

“I'd say it's God's work wherever we ended up and just happened to be together,” Malachi said. “Anglers, Oklahoma, USA Baseball. I like how it turned out.”



Malachi (left) and Kyson (right) Witherspoon pose on their first-ever baseball team together, playing for Lake Lucina (Florida) / Photograph Courtesy of Meg Witherspoon

 
The first five years of the twins’ lives were a “whirlwind” for Meg, she said. Balancing her work with solo-parenting Kyson, Malachi and their older sister, Kylei, was a challenge. Though Meg beamed of how her sons were polite kids filled with fun-loving energy and had a tendency to keep her on her toes.

Kyson and Malachi’s connection was imminent early on. Meg said the two were “goofballs” with big personalities. They used to recite movies and cartoon shows in conversation, memorizing specific lines and blurting them out to each other — one of their favorite imitations being The Great Cornholio from Beavis and Butt-head.

“‘How do you guys not get dizzy?’” Meg recalled thinking.

Their playful nature quickly transformed into competitiveness. At home, their battles were with video-game controllers. The two enjoyed fighting in Call of Duty and running one-on-ones in NBA 2K, where Malachi usually played as Stephen Curry while Kyson was Allen Iverson or Kyrie Irving. Meg sometimes had to yell at them in the middle of the night if they were too loud, Malachi said.

It translated to athletics, too. Kyson and Malachi tried almost every sport as kids, including hockey, swimming, gymnastics and football. Meg even remembers a cruise to the Bahamas she took her family on where her sons gained fame on the boat for their ping-pong skills. According to Meg, the duo defeated fellow passengers one game at a time as opponents continued to line up to try and knock them off.

“We always have a partner for everything we do,” Kyson said. “So we were the biggest competitors, always trying to get each other better.”

But their passion burned brightest on the baseball diamond. Meg said when the two first started playing catch, she thought they were trying to knock each other in the head. It was an all-out race every time they ran against each other. Any way they could satisfy their ambitious spirit was something they’d take advantage of.

“It was never something easy going,” Malachi said. “It's always a competitiveness with each other.”

Yet through it all, Kyson and Malachi were each other’s cheerleaders. Meg said when they were in eighth grade, Kyson made the school’s basketball team while Malachi did not. Kyson comforted Malachi during the time, which Meg called their first “life is not fair” moment.

She plotted a solution to the adversity, signing the two of them up for YMCA basketball as well. Kyson still played for the middle school, though Meg knew they needed to play together in some way.

Meg’s actions have never gone without utmost appreciation from her boys.

“She was really our driving force,” Kyson said. “We call her our super mom. She finds a way, we got to find a way for her.”

Kyson said Meg puts her children ahead of herself at all times, adding that he didn’t even know how they had food to eat half the time. Meg worked tirelessly. The twins helped her out in any way they could — from cleaning their rooms, washing bathrooms to babysitting their niece and two nephews.


 


Kyson (left) and Malachi (right) Witherspoon's mother, Meg, said the two grew up as "goofballs" with big personalities / Photograph Courtesy of Meg Witherspoon


They wanted to give back to what Meg provided. Baseball became their avenue to do so.

“I mean, baseball pays pretty good. If one of us makes it, we can treat our mom really well,” Kyson said. “Our biggest thing is making sure our mom can live comfortably in the future.”

Gaudy results were imminent once the two began to prioritize the game. Both were highly-touted prospects on the mound and at the dish while playing at Fletcher High School (Florida). Malachi stood out as a recruit, however, being rated as the No. 6 right-handed pitcher in the state of Florida in the class of 2022 by Perfect Game.

Roles were reversed from when Malachi didn’t make the middle school basketball roster. This time, Malachi had an invite to the MLB Draft Combine. Kyson did not. Still, his support never wavered.

“Kyson was rooting him on the whole time,” Meg said, as she traveled with him to San Diego to watch Malachi. “I really think that it kind of lit a fire under Kyson’s butt. He didn’t throw his hands up and give up by any means.”

Kyson and Malachi were prepared to go their separate ways at that point, they both said. Malachi was selected in the 12th round of the draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. But it wasn’t the spot he was hoping for. He wound up foregoing a contract with Arizona.

The consolation? Another chance to share the field with Kyson.

The twins went on visits to a litany of junior colleges, settling on Northwest Florida State College to stay closer to home. There, Kyson and Malachi were thrust into uncharted territory. They didn’t live under the same roof for the first time ever. Yet they embraced the situation.

“(Being at Northwest Florida) gave us some more individuality to kind of establish ourselves, you know?” Kyson said. “It definitely helped us.”

It was the same operation on the field though. Kyson and Malachi developed into their current roles, with the former becoming a starting pitcher and the latter growing into a reliever. The 2023 campaign saw Kyson register an efficient 3.10 ERA through 13 starts. Whereas Malachi racked up 12.46 strikeouts per game and gave up just one home run.

They earned national attention with the Raiders and eventually had plenty of options to move on from the program. Kyson and Malachi continued to be a package deal, entering the transfer portal together. Malachi said they received plenty of calls from different schools, but one stood above the rest: Oklahoma.

Sooners head coach Skip Johnson gave the twins a tough pitch to deny. They said they admired his coaching history and past working with big-name guys such as Clayton Kershaw. At the same time, it was clear to Kyson and Malachi that Johnson would let them be themselves and not force them into any certain mindset. So, they each transferred to OU.

Thus far, the decision has paid dividends.

Kyson and Malachi each posted stellar numbers as sophomores. Malachi struck out 28 batters in 22 innings of work and accumulated five saves, showing his versatility. Kyson was polished in a starting role, tossing 76 innings (11 starts), racking up 86 K’s and registering a 3.79 ERA with an 8-2 record.

Still, statistics are nowhere near what they’re most happy about. They’ve begun to accomplish what they set out to do.

“It's really brought a little bit more income,” Malachi said of playing, and excelling, at Oklahoma. “...It’s really helped give back to our mom, help her out a little bit more, just take some stress off her shoulders.”

The two have even begun to flirt with throwing in the triple-digits since arriving at Oklahoma. Each of their fastballs currently sit in the high 90-MPH range.

“I look back at the first time I threw (at Oklahoma) and then to now, it’s night and day,” Kyson said. “It doesn’t really feel like I did anything different.”

“It’s crazy seeing us where we are now,” Malachi added.




At 12 years old, Kyson (left) and Malachi (right) Witherspoon represented the Southeast Region in the Cal Ripken World Series / Photograph Courtesy of Meg Witherspoon
 

The Witherspoon’s have since taken their talents to the Cape Cod Baseball League. They now share a dugout at Veterans Field as two of Chatham’s most promising pitchers. First-year manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger has been taken aback by the twins, complementing their ability to vocally guide their peers.

“They’re just energy bugs, man. They’re good kids,” Sheetinger blushed. “They’ve got good smiles, they want to come up each day and talk and learn.”

An aura of genuineness that Sheetinger has noticed follows Kyson and Malachi around wherever they are. That sentiment has been apparent since they were 12 years old playing in the Cal Ripken World Series.

Their little league team, the Atlantic Beach Suns, was competing in the Southeast Regional with a chance at advancing to the next stage of the World Series, which took place in Missouri. That’s where their grandpa and Meg’s father, Rex, lived.

At the time, Rex’s health was declining, Meg said, and was unable to make his annual trip to Florida to see the twins. Kyson and Malachi said visiting their grandpa would have cost too much, and they needed their trip paid for. Winning the Regional was their only chance.

However, the road to moving on couldn’t have been more taxing.

“It was a five-hour game for a six-inning game,” Kyson said, revealing they experienced both a rain delay and a sun delay. “...We just wanted to see our grandpa.”

Though in the end, they emerged victorious. Kyson and Malachi remember tears flowing as soon as their squad won. Meg said that while the rest of the team jumped around in celebration, her boys stuck together, hugging each other in peak euphoria.

They were thrilled by the taste of winning, yet it was deeper than that. All Kyson and Malachi cared about was getting to see their grandpa again — just like present day, where all they desire is to help their mother out.

“It was a good run,” Malachi reminisced. “Got to see our papa one more time, couldn’t ask for more than that.”