2016-03-02 / Columns

Rachel Mindel looking to excel on the diamond at Cherry Hill East

KESSLER’S CLUB BOX
SCOTT KESSLER

[Welcome to the inaugural column of KESSLER’S CLUB BOX written by Cherry Hill resident Scott Kessler. Each month, he will focus on local athletes and sports happenings throughout Southern New Jersey. If you have sports-related stories you would like to see covered, contact Voice Editor David Portnoe at dportnoe@jfedsnj.org]

Rachel Mindel arrived in Ft. Lauderdale for the JCC Maccabi Games not knowing how her team would perform. The Cherry Hill East junior traveled to Florida as one of only two girls from South Jersey competing in softball. The other eight girls she would play with were all strangers.

In spite of their challenges, the mixed squad managed to come in second place, losing in the finals to a team they had beat in the preceding three group stage games.

Mindel, 16, intends to build upon her experiences at the Maccabi Games to move forward in her high school softball career.


Rachel Mindel at the JCC Maccabi Games in Ft. Lauderdale. Rachel Mindel at the JCC Maccabi Games in Ft. Lauderdale. “The last three years I’ve played softball, junior varsity and some varsity,” Mindel said. “I’ll hopefully play for East’s varsity softball team in the spring. I usually play catcher, but there were a few games I played first base, especially freshman year. I’d like to start as catcher on the varsity team.”

Her voice perked up with pride when Mindel talked about the difficulties of catching in softball, which often is overlooked due to the speeds celebrated in overhand men’s baseball.

“Everyone, especially for varsity, throws hard. I’ve caught pitches of over 70 miles per hour,” Mindel said. “ESPN’s Sports Science says that it’s harder to hit a softball because it’s an upward velocity and is thrown underhand.”

According to eFastball.com, a high school distance of 40 feet and 65 miles per hour converts to 95 miles per hour at 60.5 feet in Major League Baseball.

Away from the fast times of softball, Mindel has added East Girls’ Basketball team manager to her resume. Mindel needed surgery, which prevented her from playing tournament softball. To fill the time formerly taken up by her love for softball, Mindel reached out to the basketball team coach about a role.

“I’ve always been interested in playing basketball,” Mindel said. “Because I play softball all-year round, I didn’t have time for basketball anymore. Since the first week, I’ve helped the team by training the players and booking the games.

“At practice, we make sure that players execute in practice so that they execute correctly in games. We get to see the statistics for things behind the scenes and see how effort in practice correlates to in-game successes.”

With another year of school ahead of her, Mindel has thought about college and her sports career. Maybe coaching, maybe not. But she’s sure of her softball future.

“Will I play in college? I don’t think so,” Mindel said. “As much as I love softball, it’s too much time to play it in college.” .

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