Juan Villa / The Collegian
Freshman softball pitcher Morgan Melloh finds herself a lot further from home than most as she stands on the mound in Bulldog Diamond.
Melloh, 19, came from Fishers, Ind. to join the Fresno State softball team this season. She said the academic program and the stadium are what won her heart and brought her all the way to Fresno.
â€œItâ€™s just really great to play here because of the stadium, the players and the fans,â€ Melloh said.
The team has become her second family and the field, she said, is her home away from home. She is unable to make the five-hour flight back to Indiana during the season, but the support of her teammates has made the transition much easier.
Her parents have made the trip out to see her play at Bulldog Diamond, and she said they really enjoyed watching her pitch in front of a new crowd.
The academic programs that Fresno State offers also stood out to Melloh, and although she has not yet declared a major, her sights are currently set on criminology. She said she thinks it would be an interesting field to study.
The left-handed pitcher started playing softball when she was just 6 years old. Since she started playing with the Bulldogs, she has seen what really makes a team work.
â€œThere wasnâ€™t much defense in high school ball. Here there is so much good defense and they always have my back,â€ Melloh said.
Not only has her team stepped up their game, but also the competition. Melloh said the hitters are much more aggressive, but it only forces her to work harder.
As a lefty, she does see herself with a bit of an advantage. She said that like most left-handed pitchers, she puts more spin and movement on the ball.
â€œIt has definitely given me an advantage,â€ she said.
Besides a little extra curve on her pitch, teammate Andrea Ortega said Melloh brings spunk to the team.
â€œSheâ€™s just funny and brings a different attitude to the team and the game,â€ Ortega said.
Coach Margie Wright added that Melloh brings a competitive spirit and fight to the team.
She said Melloh came to the field with skill, but she still has room to improve, just like everyone else.
Wright also said that Melloh is learning what Division I is all about and that it is different from high school.
â€œShe has to be prepared, every hitter is good,â€ Wright said. â€œI think she will improve every year and I hope she has a great career.â€
Coming to Fresno, Melloh knew she would see her time on the mound as a starter, but she still had to work for her title and knew there would be no slacking off.
â€œEverybody has to battle for their positions,â€ she said. â€œI knew I was going to have to up my game and prove myself to the team.â€
Even though it is only her first year with the team, Melloh has accomplished one of her goals: beating a top ranked team.
Playing in the Judi Garman Classic over spring break, the Bulldogs not only beat Michigan, but also won the tournament.
Melloh said she remembers watching Michigan beat UCLA a few years ago in the championships and has always wanted to take them on and win.
â€œIt was a really close game, but a win is a win,â€ she said.
It hasnâ€™t all been smooth sailing for the lefty, though. She said she was very nervous her first two games, and over threw to first in one incident.
It took some time to warm up to college ball, but now that she is feeling more comfortable, Melloh hopes to take her team to the College World Series this year.
â€œI just want to lead my team to championships all four years,â€ Melloh said. â€œI know it will be one of the greatest times of my life.â€