Sports

Graduation breaking up Mount's super sisters

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They have been a dominating duo for the past three seasons. A tandem that has raised the bar considerably for Mount Saint Vincent’s softball program.

Together they have decorated the family trophy case with conference pitcher of the year and rookie of the year awards, along with several All-Skyline Conference First and Second Team honors, and a number of player of the week accolades.

In short, sisters Mackenzie and Rachel Heizer have made winning the norm at The Mount. Mackenzie, a senior, has logged 79 wins in her storied career, while Rachel, a junior, has been part of 51 victories — 39 of which have come in conference play.

There also was a spirited run to the Skyline Conference Tournament semifinals last season, the deepest run by any Dolphins team in school history.

So, yes, the good times have been rolling at The Mount for a quite while now.

But this sister act is now in the midst of its final performances with Mackenzie forced to break up the act due to her graduation in May. And though Mackenzie’s departure was inevitable, it’s one Dolphins head coach Mark Roldan will have a hard time dealing with whenever The Mount’s season concludes.

“They are definitely the best players I’ve ever coached,” Roldan said of the Heizer sisters. “They are the most experienced players I’ve coached, and I’ve coached travel ball before here where I had some very strong players.

“But no doubt about it, I’ll definitely miss having Mackenzie around. She came here in my first year on the college level, and we definitely learned a lot together. We got better together each year.”

As hard as it will be for Roldan to see one of his first-ever recruits leave the nest, consider how difficult it will be for the sisters to see their playing days together come to an end.

“We’ve been playing softball since we were 4,” Rachel said. “There may have been two seasons total when we weren’t on the same team. We love playing together. We’re best friends.”

The two were apart for a year when Mackenzie arrived at college and Rachel was still in high school in Vacaville, California.

“But what’s been good for me is I know I always have one person who has my back,” Rachel said. “She’s always there. It will be different from a team dynamic next year, and we’ll have some big shoes to fill but I’m going to miss her.

“She’s my buddy.”

A quick perusal of the latest stat sheet tells you just how important the Heizer sisters are to the Dolphins. Mackenzie leads the team in batting (.435) and is second in hits (30) and doubles (seven).

Rachel is second in batting (.425), and is tops on the team in hits (37), RBIs (25), doubles (11) and homers (three). Not that they’re competing or anything.

“No, there’s nothing like that,” Mackenzie said, laughing. “We just always pull for each other to do well.”

But it’s not just about the numbers the Heizers pile up. They also have brought a winning attitude to a program that was in need of one when Mackenzie arrived in 2014.

The year before her freshman season, The Mount stumbled through a 9-25 season. In Mackenzie’s first year, the Dolphins went 28-7.

Coincidence?

“I think we’ve turned around the mentality of this program,” Mackenzie said. “People in both our classes have. When I came in as a freshman. this was a team that was used to losing. But then we had the fifth biggest turnaround in wins in the NCAA.

“I think our team has turned around so much mentally that it now comes out and expects to win and expects greatness, and that’s really cool. We cultivated that from the second we came in ,and I think that has grown. I think that’s my legacy to leave behind.”

There are just two games remaining in the regular season for the Heizer sisters, then there’s the Skyline Tournament. But Mackenzie understands her time is short in a Dolphins uniform.

“The team teases me a lot saying, ‘Oh you’re old. You’re all washed up,’” Mackenzie said, with another laugh. “I’ve thought about it a lot, but everything has to come to an end. It’s sad, but I’m ready to leave everything out on the field and then move on to the rest of my life.”

Before she takes her final bows and the act is broken up for good, there is a little unfinished business — getting that elusive Skyline Conference tournament title along with a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

“That’s the goal,” Rachel said. “Our team is really set to do it, especially for our four seniors. That would be amazing.”

And a perfect curtain call for Mackenzie Heizer.

“What a way to end a career,” Mackenzie said. “That’s the dream right there.”

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