Local business caters to softball players from everywhere
Building blocks are a familiar sports metaphor, illustrating the need for strong foundational pieces in order to achieve athletic success.
Whether it’s constantly working on staying low out of the blocks as a sprinter, taking jumper after jumper in an empty gym, or increasing one’s strength in a musty weight room, that attention to the fundamentals is what’s needed to build future success.
Those figurative building blocks now have a literal meaning for Alexandra MacLean who recently started a business that will serve area softball players interested in establishing their own building blocks.
The former Northampton High School and Bucknell University graduate, has opened 7 Deadly Spins Fastpitch, catering solely to softball players, something she said distinguishes her business from the other combination baseball/softball places operating in the Lehigh Valley. The site is located on 3678 Crescent Court East in Whitehall.
MacLean, who graduated from Northampton in 2009, transformed a former warehouse into a two-story softball emporium that’s dedicated to the empowerment of girls.
“We wanted to create a softball facility,” said MacLean. “We wanted it to be power to the girls. That’s kind of my motto.”
Those building blocks also include helping the girls in other aspects of their lives.
“We like to think that we’re teaching these kids beyond softball,” said MacLean.
While most will be on site for a pitching, fielding or hitting lesson, MacLean said that they want to build relationships with them and provide for those players outside of softball.
She said whether it’s a social skills, feelings of empowerment, or dealing with difficult situations, softball is just a gateway to do that. It’s part of their mission.
She said that it’s not unusual for a girl to call her on a Saturday night because they just need to talk. They become a confidante, an environment where they feel safe. She describes it as a softball coach disguised as life coach.
It’s all part of a well-rounded approach.
“We are focused on making them the best they can be,” said MacLean.
Booking a lesson may entail waiting, but she said kids want to come to 7 Deadly Spins Fastpitch because they have produced some pretty good pitchers. It’s made possible by a staff that’s fully committed to helping the girls.
MacLean said that girls travel as far as Binghamton, New York to take advantage of what 7 Deadly Spins Fastpitch has to offer.
“We’re really lucky to provide this space for the girls,” said MacLean.
MacLean said that this journey began as a hobby in her backyard after graduating from Bucknell. It continued to grow, and soon she was renting a space in another establishment, but shortly outgrew that space because of the demand.
“We were turning people away,” said MacLean.
She began searching for another venue with the intent of remaining in Whitehall since that’s where she became established.
MacLean said she stumbled upon a listing in Whitehall on the Internet that looked like it would fit the bill: high ceilings, plenty of space, easy access. She made an appointment to visit the property.
“It was just meant to be,” said MacLean.
She said the original plan was to move into the downstairs space, but the owner asked if she wanted to see the upstairs space as well, and that eventually became the space for the batting cages, as well as a waiting area for parents.
“It was an open, clear space, that’s what we got, and we outfitted it to meet our needs,” said MacLean.
They had their grand opening on March 9. They currently have 12 employees, many of whom have played softball locally.
“We continue to grow to meet the needs of our client base,” said MacLean.
The endeavor has meant spending a lot of time not only creating the business, but also growing it. She said that it was a big investment of time and effort that was aided by the efforts Deily Contractors, Tri-Boro Fencing, along with the help of family and friends.
“We truly had an army of support when we were making this all happen,” MacLean said.
MacLean said that the Egypt Cobras have made use of the facility. Madison Cunningham, the Zephyrs starting pitcher, has also worked with the instructors. MacLean said that quite a few players from Whitehall have sought out help from their talented staff.
MacLean said that their approach to each pitcher varies. They’re going to find out what works best for the individual athlete and concentrate on that during their lesson.
“One thing I preach is that everyone can use a great change-up, but we have students who throw a rise ball and a curve ball, or a drop ball and a screwball,” said MacLean. “First we work on accuracy, some fastball accuracy, and then we try and get a change-up, and then we got o for another pitch. Once we’ve mastered that pitch, we add another one into the mix.”
Softball has been growing as a sport with MacLean noting that the recent Women’s College Softball World Series had its largest viewership in four years. It’s also included in the 2020 Olympics, something that has her students excited.
The Lehigh Valley is the home to over 30 club teams, giving players more options and avenues to improve their games.
“There’s lots of opportunity there as well,” said MacLean.
MacLean loves the competitive nature of softball. As a freshman at Bucknell, she earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Patriot Conference. It’s a passion she’s carried into her professional life as she instructs the next generation.
“I just like the look on a kid’s face when they get something right,” she said.
She said that kids will often share their good fortunes either in person or online, telling her about a good outing or a no-hitter.
“That’s the exciting part, taking what they learned here and applying it in a game,” said MacLean.
With the start of the business, her softball journey has been truly rewarding.
“It just continued to grow, and softball’s been a part of my life since T-ball, and it was just really great that I was able to turn it into a career,” said MacLean.