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Millburn's Rachel Hubertus (right) is congratulated by a teammate during 2016 game. The Millers' rising senior star recently committed to Fordham University where she will play her college softball in 2018. Millburn is 45-8 the past two years. (Photos courtesy of The Item of Millburn & Short Hills)

Rachel Hubertus rounds second during state tourney game vs. Woodbridge

Millburn Standout Shortstop
Will Be Fordham Bound In ‘17
By Steve Tober

MILLBURN- For Millburn coach John Childs, whenever he watches his rising senior star shortstop Rachel Hubertus do her thing on a softball diamond he can’t help but harken back to another great Miller at that position.

Now that Hubertus has made her commitment to continue her softball career at Fordham University in 2017-2018, the memories of another Division I Millburn shortstop simply come even more front and center in his mind.

“I have no doubt that Rachel will be very successful at the next level,” said Child, whose Millburn team finished 22-4 last spring and is 45-8 during the past two seasons. “And, the comparison to Alexa Maldonado and her outstanding success at Millburn High School and also at Note Dame are inevitable.

“Like Alexa, Rachel is a very special and unique player. Her potential is limitless. And, although they have different types of games, they both possess outstanding talent and ability. Almost every game umpires and coaches talk about Rachel and what a gifted and talented player she is.”

Hubertus had a tremendous junior season in 2016 batting .662 with 47 hits, 12 home runs, 56 runs scored and 52 RBI to go along with a .837 on base % and a slugging % of 1.394. She is a 2-time third-team Group 4 all-state selection, was a first team All-Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division choice as both a sophomore and junior and first-team All-SEC Liberty as a freshman. She also made Sideline Chatter’s second-team All-Essex in 2016.

Although she has never the opportunity to watch Maldonado play the game they both love and excel at, the current Millburn star shortstop is well aware of the legacy a predecessor at the all-important position has had.

“S ince I was pretty young I had heard of Alexa,” said Hubertus “I've never actually seen her play so I can't speak about our similarities. She actually played with the Morris County Belles under the same head coach and was a teammate with my assistant coach. Whenever they speak about her they always talk about her incredible work ethic and natural athletic ability. I hope my career at Millburn will match up to the legacy she left.”

Despite the fact that Millburn played in the SEC’s third division the past two springs, Hubertus stood out as a top-notch talent in the conference even though she would have liked to have seen more of a steady diet of facing upper echelon SEC powers such as Mount St. Dominic and West Essex from the top division, the American.

As it was in 2016, the Millers did play A-Division power Nutley, dropping a close 3-2 decision, while also beating Bloomfield. Millburn lost to Cedar Grove, 4-0, in the Essex County Tournament when the Panthers’ Mia Faieta threw a 1-hitter with 17 strikeouts.

However, the Millers had a terrific run in the North 2, Group 4 state tournament, defeating both Woodbridge, 15-5, and Columbia, 11-10, before being edged by Piscataway, 5-3, in the sectional semifinals.

Going up against good competition, whenever possible, is important to Hubertus.

“ I definitely wish the Millers and I could play against some of the best competition in the state, such as Mount St. Dominic and West Essex,” said the Millburn standout “Both teams obviously have some of the best players in the state; with the Mount having a great pitcher in Kelsey Oh and West Essex having one of the most dangerous hitters in the county in Bridget Betley.

“It would be interesting to see how we would stack up against such good competition.”

Hubertus would also like to see the image of Millburn softball continue on the upswing, which should be a positive factor moving forward with the success the program has had of late.

“In my opinion Millburn has never really been seen as a real threat on the softball field,” she said. “Throughout the past three years we have been trying to disprove that generalization and I feel that we have been doing a great job.

“My hope for the future is that we keep improving and get more competitive every year in hopes that Millburn softball will become a perennial threat in the Super Essex Conference.”

Hubertus has enjoyed playing for coach Childs and his ever-improving Millburn program.

“Coach Childs has helped my game immensely over the past three years,” said Hubertus. “During practice coach always has a hitting drill that none of us have heard of to work on certain aspects of hitting like extension or power.

“Coach has also done a great job teaching us responsibility; he has drilled in our heads that everyone has a job to do and it has to be done. Whether that job is carrying a bucket of balls or locking the shed, everything is important. I will truly miss Coach Childs after next year but will take everything he has taught with me to Fordham.”

Hubertus has already made a lasting impact on Millburn softball.

“Rachel has had a tremendous influence on our program not only on the field, but also as a leader for our younger girls,” said Childs. “Rachel constantly takes time to help our girls by leading not only through example, but also in helping our girls in all of the many drills we do offensively and defensively.”

Hubertus plays a high level of summer ball with the Morris county Belles facing that type of first-rate competition.

“Playing with the Morris County Belles was probably the best decision of my recruiting process,” she explained. “Without them I would never have improved as much as I have as a player. We play a very competitive schedule in the summer and the fall playing against some of the best competition in the country.

“The Belles were invaluable to my recruiting process by putting my team and I in all of the good tournaments and on the main fields. I have really enjoyed my time with the Belles and can't wait for another year with them.

Her diligence to continue to work hard throughout the year in order to be the best player she can be has led to her receiving Division I offers and selecting Fordham was a well-thought-out decision.

“ I chose to go to Fordham because of the support that the school gives to their student athletes and the impressive academic reputation the university boasts,” said the Millers’ rising senior team leader. “Right when I got on campus and met the coaches I knew Fordham was going to be one of my top schools. It has a great location, it's in New York City which is one of the greatest cities in the country and it's close to home so my family can come visit and come to games. I also chose to go to Fordham because of the winning tradition of the softball team; they have won four straight Atlantic 10 Championships and have recently gained several berths to the NCAA Tournament.

Fordham is coached by Bridget Orchard, a 1997 Villanova graduate who will enter her 16 th season at the helm of Rams women’s softball in 2017. Among the Jersey stars she has recruited to the Bronx are former Washington Township all-state shortstop Jessica Hughes, who started as a freshman last spring and was the A-10 Rookie of the Year, and former Immaculate Heart catcher Ally Vergona, who will be a senior next spring.

Orchard was heavily involved in the purwsuit of Hubertus by the Rams.

“Coach Orchard was very active in my recruiting process,” explained Hubertus. “We always talk directly whether it is on the phone, text message, or email; she is very easy to communicate with whenever I have questions. That is one of the reasons I chose to go to Fordham because of how approachable Coach Orchard is.

“She did a very good job informing me about the softball team. She answered every question I had during my visit and after, and on my visit she was very informative providing me with plenty of literature on the school and the softball program. I really liked this direct approach she took in familiarizing me with the softball team.

“I am very excited to become a Ram; playing competitive D1 softball has been a dream of mine since I started playing softball. I can't wait to get to the Bronx next fall.”

Hubertus’ career hitting numbers at Millburn are as impressive as her 2016 season log. She has 139 career hits in three years, 59 extra base hits, 28 home runs, 136 RBI’s and 127 runs scored while sporting a lifetime average of .618 and a slugging % of 1.199.

She has emerged as a very good high school shortstop even though her position at Fordham could wind up being at the hot corner.

“Rachel came to us as a freshman having played primarily at catcher and third base,” said Childs. “It did not take me long to see that her skills and abilities would give us a shortstop for four years.

“She worked extremely hard to adapt to the demands of the position and has become an outstanding defensive player.”

“I love to play shortstop for Millburn and being a leader in the infield,” she said. “But, for Fordham I will most likely be playing third base which is my main position on my club team.

But, regardless of her position now or in the future, her hitting remains ever so eye catching for any college coach or softball observer who gets to see her perform.

“I have worked very hard for the past few years on improving my hitting and really honing in on my power,” she noted. “I go to my hitting coach, Duke Baxter, and hit a lot in my backyard where my Dad built a batting cage. I would say I attribute by hitting ability to hard work and great coaching.”

As an offensive force, Hubertus has already emerged as one of the county’s best.

“Rachel’s greatest contribution has been her offense,” added Childs. “She has rewritten almost every offensive statistic for Millburn softball. She is a threat each and every time she steps into the batter’s box.”

And, while her college decision has been made and Fordham is definitely a huge future focus, continuing to shine for her Millburn High School team is still very much front and center on the team leader’s mind.

“I am excited for our upcoming season next spring,” she said. “Last year we probably had the best team Millburn softball has had in years, which was shown with our record and good play against solid teams such as Nutley and Bloomfield.

“We did lose some key spots in our lineup due to graduation, but I'm excited to see who steps up. I think next year we are going to have a great season, maybe even better than this past spring!”

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