It’s an insanely loud and emotional family, and it’s just the way they like it.
Stockdale assistant softball coach Mackenzie Oakes-Johnson is a loud personality that was as dominating in the game as she is exuberant.
It comes from her mother, Shannon Nieblas, who opened the Stockdale program 27 years ago. She also got from her grandparents, Wayland and Maggie Oakes, who were staples at Stockdale games for decades.
It is also what makes the relationship between, Oakes-Johnson and her younger sister, Izzy Nieblas, so intriguing.
For the past four seasons Oakes-Johnson has served as an assistant to Amanda Hockett at Stockdale while Nieblas has been the starting first baseman for the Mustangs.
Nielbas will move on to play Division I college softball across the country at the University of Maine next season.
But in their final time together in the dugout as coach and player, the sisters get a chance to etch another major chapter for the family and for the history of the Stockdale softball team on Friday night.
The third-seeded Mustangs play No. 5 Fresno-Bullard in the Central Section Division I championship game at 7:30 p.m. at Fresno State in the stadium Oakes-Johnson starred as a starting pitcher for the Bulldogs.
“For (Nieblas) to get the chance to step on the same field where her sister had an amazing career at Fresno State, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Hockett said. “With the career Izzy has made here in her four years, she has made a statement for herself being here in this situation herself.”
It’s an emotional ending to a life-long relationship in softball for these two.
It was nine years ago when a 9-year old Nieblas was in the stands to watch her big sister throw a perfect game for Fresno State at Margie Wright Diamond against Georgetown.
It is Nieblas’ favorite moment in that stadium.
“It means a lot and I think it goes to show our connection as well,” Oakes-Johnson said. “Izzy was probably nine at the time. So for her to hold on to that, it means a lot.”
Now Nieblas has a chance as a player to make her own memories there.
“It’s a wide range of emotions,” Oakes-Johnson said. “I am so proud of her and these girls of what they have done. I have some of my favorite memories playing softball in a Stockdale jersey and also in this stadium as a Bulldog. I can’t wait for Izzy to have this moment. To watch her do that and be in the same element under the lights, it’s great. I can’t wait to watch her and all of the girls play.”
The relationship hasn’t always been pretty for them because of that sibling dynamic.
“We have had our moments, but for the most part, we have been very good about knowing that she is my sister but also my coach,” Nieblas said. “I respect that. But it’s been awesome having her out here. Not only is she my coach, she is my No. 1 fan. It’s been really nice.”
Oakes-Johnson knows sometimes she can be harder on her sister than other players because, well, she is her little sister and does it out of love. Hockett even said she has had to, at times, play “mediator between the two.”
“I think there are times when it’s tough because Izzy would get more of the harsher coaching,” Oakes-Johnson said. “But it’s been nice because I remember what it was like with a parent coaching me. There are times when Izzy took more of a harsher critiquing from me, but I was also able to relate to her better because of it.”
During her four-year career at Stockdale, the Mustangs never won a title with their mom as the head coach despite the standout career Oakes-Johnson had.
But for the two to get a shot at a title, together, is special that they can share together. Oh, and Nieblas, who sports a .451 career batting average and 128 RBIs, could finally get one on her big sister.
“Mac will always have her comebacks and will always get me, because that’s what she does,” Nieblas said. “But I will have something on her now if we can win it all.”