Dana Bell is still one of the best players in the area.
But she’s doing it a different way now.
Bell is a senior on the Archbishop Ryan High School softball team, and when she was a freshman, she pitched the Ragdolls to a Catholic League championship.
But after that season, she decided to try a new position, and it couldn’t have worked out better.
Not only was she a great pitcher, she can do pretty much anything there is to do on the softball field.
“There was a lot going on for me, personally, and I was struggling with some things, mostly mentally,” said Bell, who lives in Bensalem. “I took a year off from pitching, I started playing third base and outfield.
“I went through a time where I wasn’t doing well for myself, and it stemmed from me pitching. It was a personal decision for me. I needed to do it. I’m very open about it because it really helped me. I still love softball and I’ve been doing other things.”
Not only has she been doing other things, she’s been doing other things just as well, if not better, than she did when she was the top player during her ninth-grade year.
And just like always, she’s putting the team first.
For her club team, Bell played mostly corner infield and outfield. But this year, the Ragdolls, who have aspirations of winning another Catholic League championship or at least being in the mix for the title, needed a shortstop. Bell stepped up and filled the position. That helped the team fill out the lineup card with a stud up the middle, and Bell is having fun.
Winning is fun, and Bell loves being a part of this team.
“I’m having so much fun, it’s just a great team to be around and we’re all having fun,” said Bell, who, like every player, was disappointed to have last year nixed because of coronavirus. “I think we’re all excited to be back together as a team. We’re really close this year, a lot of seniors, so we’re able to at different times be leaders. We can all be stern with the younger players, but we can take turns so nobody is the bad cop. We are all good teammates.
“It’s working out really well because we have a lot of seniors on this team, but we also have a lot of really good underclassmen. Young freshmen and sophomores who are really good. I try to help them because I remember playing when I was younger. It was hard, so I want to make sure I’m there for them.”
Bell hopes softball season is one to remember, but this entire school year has been exciting and memorable.
In some ways, it’s been difficult because the school has been forced to go virtual a lot of the time, but Bell has made sure she’s been able to stay connected to her teammates and all of her friends.
In fact, she picked up a new sport to spend more time with some of her buddies.
“A few of my best friends played volleyball, so I tried out and played just so I could see them and spend time with them,” Bell said. “It was pretty good. We had a good year. Some schools didn’t play because of COVID, but I thought we did pretty well. It was fun, I was happy with it.
“We go to school on different days, so I was able to see them more by playing. It was tough because a lot of the schools that we go neck in neck with didn’t play, so we played mostly the really good teams, but it was a lot of fun.”
That’s not the only new thing Bell took part in recently.
When she was a pitcher, Bell was constantly busy, but when she switched positions, she carved out some free time. She has put it to good use.
“I was able to get my first job, I work at McDonald’s and I love it there,” said Bell, who works at the one in Southampton. “I work with two of my cousins. I do a little bit of everything, so everything is kind of exciting. I like assembly, making sandwiches and putting them all together. It gets hot, so I don’t like cooking. I make a mean McFlurry, though!”
As great as her dessert-making skills are, she’s even better in the classroom. She’s ranked in the top 1 percent of her senior class, and she’s all set to take those good grades to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she’ll continue her softball career.
“Ever since I was a young kid, I traveled a lot for softball and I got comfortable with airplanes and I was fascinated with them,” Bell said. “And I watch the Smithsonian channel and watch all the different crashes and stuff. In high school, I took advanced math classes, I knew I wanted to do something with engineering. This is definitely me, it’s something I’ll really enjoy.
“Ever since I was in school, it was important. Having an older sister, she was one year ahead of me, I always tried to see if I could beat her. So I fell in love with school.”
As much as she loves to beat her sister on report cards, she’s very close to her.
When the world was shut down due to the pandemic, they became even closer.
“We did a lot of family things, played games, and I spent a lot of time with my sister (Kristin), going to the gym and watching TV, and I spent a lot of time with my chocolate lab, Beatrice. Beatrice is my best friend. My sister wouldn’t be mad, she’d say the same thing. We joke she’s the love of our lives until we meet our future husbands.”
Maybe not as much as Beatrice, but Bell would love to leave Ryan with another PCL championship.
“We’re chasing the chip,” Bell said. “That’s our goal. We have a great team, our goal is to win. We want to go as far as we can.”