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She wants to practice.

She wants to practice to the point where she can do anything on a softball field.

St. Mary’s Ryken Knights senior softball player Rachel Heinze admits that practice has been the key reason she has been a standout softball player for the Knights and on the travel team softball circuit.

“I like to practice and I like to get better at what I’m doing,” Heinze said. “This is just an example, but I just started catching last year. I have played everywhere in the field, but I just started catching and I love it. I want to play everywhere, but I really want to learn how to do that. I want to be able to be put in a position the coach needs me at and be an asset.”

Heinze will be an asset for the Knights this upcoming spring, but will be an asset at Mt. St. Mary’s University for the next four years thereafter after signing her letter of intent to play softball for the university known as ‘the Mount.’

“I am so excited,” Heinze said of collegiate softball. “I am nervous, but I am really, really, really excited about it. … It’s just a different level. I like the feeling of being nervous and how it’s going to be challenging. That’s actually the part that I like about it, so overall, I’m excited.”

Heinze, a Charles County resident, admits that her love for practice, and ultimately her love for softball, was heightened at a young age while she played with age groups older than she during her time with her travel softball team, the Southern Maryland Shockers, based out of Charles County.

“I played with Kenny Sothoron for, maybe, seven years and he is a big help in all of this,” Heinze said of her collegiate step. “I was on a team named the Southern Maryland Shockers and I started when I was nine or 10 and everyone else was 11. He was our coach … and he was a huge part because he got me playing. … He made me get into [softball]. He made me love it.”

But as Sothoron and current Ryken head coach Jim Sewell have been here for Heinze for the past few recent years, they will not be with her when she moves on to the next level, a level where she will, again, be playing with an age group older than her.

“Right now [in high school] you know how you can play,” Heinze explained. “But [in college] it’s about keeping up with the game itself, it’s going to be a lot quicker. That includes the girls because the girls are going to be working out. That also includes … harder hits and tougher pitchers.”

Playing softball since the fourth grade, Heinze admitted that she has always wanted to be part of a college softball team and that plenty of factors other than simply softball went into her choosing to play for Mt. St. Mary’s.

“I’ve always heard about it because a lot of people from St. Mary’s County go there,” Heinze said of the Mount. “It’s a great place, it’s pretty close and there was a girl [at Ryken] a couple of years ago who is really a good softball player, [Mt. St. Mary’s senior] Erin Leddy [2009 All-County softball player of the year], and she went to Mt. St. Mary’s.

“I’ve always known of Mt. St. Mary’s and when I found out that it was Division I, I was thinking that’s really going to be an option because I really loved it there. When it worked out, I loved it and was just ready to go.”

Now, Heinze will practice, practice and practice some more as she prepares to become the college player she has always wanted to be since the fourth grade.

jmccray@somdnews.com