by Martin McConnell
Brecksville-Broadview Heights senior softball player Chelsea Mack’s numbers have gone beyond the realm of “off the charts” this spring.
Mack, known to some of her teammates as “Choch,” has become a force on the softball diamond. In addition to batting an impressive .726 on the season, Mack stole 81 bases in 83 attempts this year, good for the OHSAA single-season state record. Her stats have turned the heads of college softball coaches around the United States.
“She’s really gifted,” Rex Mack, Chelsea’s father and current coach said. “I’ve coached for 25-plus years. She’s a gifted athlete. … She’s just stronger, and faster, and has better coordination than I think a lot of athletes.”
The Macks are a softball family. Chelsea’s career steal numbers put her firmly second in Bees history behind only her older sister, two-time College World Series champion Alexis Mack. Rex Mack noted that his two daughters are both great players in their own right, but that Chelsea is far more laid-back in her approach to the game, which stays true to her style on the field.
“Chelsea is very empathetic, she’s very laid-back,” Rex said. “If Alexis is here, she and I will be arguing. She’ll want to stay [at practice] longer and longer and longer.”
This season, Chelsea helped lead the Bees to a 27-4 record in 2022 and a perfect 12-0 within the OHSAA Suburban League. Her truly elite speed on the bases makes her a constant threat to opposing infielders, which opens up countless other aspects of the Bees’ offensive attack.
“We run this thing called ‘runner protection,’ where the [batter] basically sacrifices a pitch for you,” Chelsea said. “Once I have that, and they can protect me, it gives me an easier route to steal.”
Chelsea’s speed is just the start. Perhaps the most valuable part of her skillset is her knowledge of the game of softball. Her confident approach and nearly-instantaneous reaction time while running the bases keeps defenses guessing.
“My sister and I talked about this,” Chelsea said. “There are so many things that have to go wrong for [me] to get out.”
The Bees have multiple players going to college on softball scholarships this year, and Chelsea will play her college softball with the University of Kentucky Wildcats under the tutelage of coach Rachel Lawson. She explained that the Wildcats’ play style fits her freeform nature and will allow her to showcase her explosive speed.
“I saw how Coach Lawson trusted her runners,” Chelsea said. “That was a bigger part of my recruiting, was trying to find a school that would let me be the player that I am.”
During a game, that level of trust from her coach is important to Chelsea. Kentucky’s coaching staff allows their runners to slap, steal and generally freelance their way to manufacturing runs, and Chelsea immediately took notice of that style.
“My sister ended up actually playing [Kentucky] in the super regionals two times,” Chelsea said. “I saw Oregon play Kentucky, and I remember sitting there. … I thought Kentucky was the coolest school ever from that day.”
Above any personal accolades, Chelsea wants to help her team win. During her time at Brecksville, winning has come from the Bees’ team-first approach, and the individual statistics have followed.
“My main goal is just to start in centerfield,” Chelsea said. “I would like to help [Kentucky] get further in the College World Series tournament.”