Standing at 5’4, guard Rachel Plotke ‘18 is the shortest member of the Muhlenberg women’s basketball squad. Being the shortest on the team does not stop her from dominating on the court, however. Since stepping on Chew Street, Plotke has developed into one of the best guards in the Centennial Conference and is one of the most consistent players on a talent-laden Muhlenberg team.
Plotke credits her growth as a collegiate player to learning from a talented and experienced senior class during her freshman season. “Coming in as a freshman,” she explained, “I was playing with and against a very experienced and successful team in practice each day, which increased the level of my game over the course of the season and beyond. I’ve become physically stronger, faster, and more confident playing at this level of basketball.” Plotke was part of a talented recruiting class that has guided the Mules to become a perennial powerhouse, and when asked about being part of the talented class of 2018, she exclaimed, “It feels great! It’s motivating and exciting to be surrounded by so many talented people here at Muhlenberg. I’m very lucky to be a part of the class of 2018.”
Her love of the game started at the age of ten. “What I love most about the game are the life-long friends I have made as well as the greater life lessons learned through playing basketball.” This passion for the game and the lessons that she has learned from basketball made it an easy decision to play basketball at the collegiate level.
After appearing in 17 games as a freshman, it was Plotke’s turn to take over the starting shooting guard role for the 2015/16 season. She had a tremendous season last year for the Centennial Conference’s best program, starting every game for the Mules, averaging 15 points per game, being named to the All Centennial Conference first team, and most importantly, leading the Mules to a second straight Centennial Conference Championship and NCAA tournament berth. Plotke believes that her biggest strength on the court is “definitely my three-point shooting.” During her sophomore season, Plotke led the nation in three-point shooting, reaching an astronomical 48.6 percent. She has incredible range and can sink threes with ease in a variety of ways.
This season, the Mules have high expectations after coming off one of the best years in school history. “Each year we set team goals to win the Scotty Wood Tournament, to win the Centennial Conference Championship, and to go far in the NCAA Tournament,” said Plotke. The Mules achieved their first goal back at the beginning of the season in November with two blow-out wins to take home another Scotty Wood Tournament title. After the tornament, though, the Mules faced adversity as Plotke suffered an injury.
Unfortunately, her injury sidelined her for nine games, and the Mules found themselves in the middle of the Centennial Conference standings after suffering tough losses to conference foes Dickinson, Gettysburg, and Washington. After a big 63-61 victory against non-conference foe DeSales, the Mules have won their last four conference games and are climbing back towards the top of the conference standings. During this current five game winning streak, Plotke is back at full strength and her dominance from behind the arc has returned. She has been shooting a robust 53.7 percent from three and averaging 17 points per game during that span. “I have to say, the highlight of the season for me thus far has been being back on the court after a 9-game absence due to injury. The ultimate highlight of this season will be winning the Centennial Conference Championship,” Plotke exclaims.
She even revealed that the team’s motto this year is “Make History,” and the Mules are expecting to do so by winning their third straight conference championship, a feat that has never been accomplished in Centennial Conference history. In order to win another Centennial Conference Championship and advance in the NCAA Tournament, Plotke says that she must “play to the best of my ability each day so that the team can accomplish the goals we set and to improve my defensive game by getting more steals and rebounds.”
You can catch Plotke and the rest of the red-hot Muhlenberg squad this coming Saturday against conference foe Franklin & Marshall and the following week against Haverford and Gettysburg on Feb. 7 and 9 respectively.