THE "ALMOST" PERFECT SEASON

Written by Morgan Melloh
06/25/20

Chapter 1: The Decision


*SMACK* as I heard my softball coach’s hand hit the table near my head at study tables.  “Wake up Morgan. You have some work to do.” My coach, David Cook at Hamilton Southeastern, monitored the athletes who received a D or below on their report card, early before school began.  I picked my head up so I can try to concentrate on what I was studying in front of me.  My eyes were weary, and my body felt too relaxed in my chair.  Trying not to doze off again because I knew I would get in trouble later at practice.  I always felt that Coach was very intimidating, but knew he cared enough to not let me slip through the cracks.  I was a junior in high school at the time.  Taking all of my important core classes which included Biology, Spanish, and Geometry.  Any class that seemed challenging, you name it.  I was a major softball jock.  Every time I sat in a classroom trying to concentrate on school work, all I could think about was when practice was starting.  “When can I just let all of my school stress go away when I get on the field?”  I would tell myself.  Just for those 2 golden hours I wouldn’t have to worry about anything, but playing softball.


Going back about a year, by the end of my sophomore year, I already received a total of 30 different questionnaire letters from colleges that want me to pitch for them.  It was nice to feel wanted by all the schools that you dreamt about in the Big Ten, Big 12, and even some SEC schools.  But one college really stood out to me and recruited me HARD. The University of Louisville.  The school seemed like it was legit, only 2 hours away from my home, my good friend Brittney Counts is going there, I love their colors, mascot, etc.  It felt right being on their campus when I was eligible to visit.  All I had to do was match my GPA with my ACT and SAT scores in order to get my FULL RIDE.  Seemed like a fair deal. 


So forwarding back to November of my Junior Year in Highschool, I received a call from the Head Softball coach from Louisville.


“Morgan, we are really interested in you and we need an answer now.  If not, we will have to drop the full ride scholarship to give to someone else,” she said.


Of course I would say yes who wouldn’t?


“Yes. Coach I am 100% in,” I told her with confidence. 


You can tell she had excitement in her voice when she heard my overjoyed answer.  Immediately I began spreading the word that I am now a verbal commit to the University of Louisville.  One of the happiest moments in my life was knowing I was going to continue with my softball playing career.  I never thought about what I wanted to major in, and if they had a good program for it or not, all I cared about was playing softball for the University I wanted to attend.  


Chapter 2: Under pressure

As the days went by, I knew that my GPA wasn’t the best.  I was sitting at a 1.9 in high school.  I knew Junior year was going to be important and in order for me to have a leg up to get into U of L, I had to get a B in Biology, a C Geometry, and a C in Spanish.  My dad signed me up for the ACT and SAT testing in order to match my test scores with my 1.9 GPA.  It was going to be tough because I had to do some major high scoring in both those categories.  I was feeling the pressure.  Once I sat in that classroom for the ACT, I could feel my nerves working up.  My leg constantly shaking up and down, feeling like I didn’t have enough time to think about each question.  The first two times I took the ACT, I didn’t match it. The 3rd and 4th time I started to get a little closer.  The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th time, I got close but wasn’t enough. 


I started to think, “Will I ever get it? Am I failing myself? Am I failing everyone else that’s counting on me?” Those thoughts I will never forget.  The doubt you set yourself with.  Once we tried the testing route, I desperately needed to get a C or above in order to have a good position to get in.  Every night I would think about it and stay up so late worrying.  I felt like I had the worst acne that year from all the stress I was under. By the end of my Junior year, we had to take our final exams. As I slowly started opening my report card, my hands were shaking, heart was pumping, I couldn’t go through with it.  Once I opened it, I closed my eyes for about 10 seconds, looked down and:


Biology: D

Geometry: D

Spanish: F


How did I fail so badly? I thought I studied til I knew it by heart! How did this happen? I knew I was in a hole and it would be tough to dig myself out.

I slowly handed my report card to my parents for them to take a look.  They couldn’t believe it. “Well,” dad said. “You have to bust your butt the rest of your senior year to make it.”

 
 

Chapter 3: A.D.D.

During that summer, I ended up taking summer school.  My teacher noticed I have been getting distracted easily, zoning out constantly, shaking my leg nervously all the time.  She suggested that I should get tested for ADD. (Attention Deficit Disorder) My parents obeyed my teacher’s suggestion.  I took the tests the counselor put me through, the result was I did have a major case of it.  They subscribed medicine which completely worked wonders with my attention span, but had some major side effects that caused irritability, nausea, and loss of appetite. I figured, “who cares about the side effects, what ever gets me through high school right?” I took that medicine into my senior year, still hoping that I was going to get good grades with this magic pill.  


Before the first Senior semester started, I was determined to have a great Senior softball season.  I signed up for conditioning with the BASKETBALL TEAM, who runs a million miles a day up and down the court, which is completely opposite of softball.  (The furthest I ran was a total of 240 ft.. around the bases)  We ran a mile a day, sometimes in front of the football team as I pray in my mind I don’t puke right in front of my football crush. Every day we had to beat our mile time or we would have to do extra conditioning. We ran stadiums, lifted weights, I worked my butt off for my vision to come true in the end. WIN STATE MY SENIOR YEAR.  


As the Fall Semester rolls in, I had to take Geometry and Spanish over again.  I hated these two the most because I just sucked at understanding a different language, and for some reason I couldn’t read angles at the time.  This round, I really had to receive the grades I wanted in order for Louisville to accept me.  As the days turned into months, the end of the semester final rolls around.  This time, I was taking my medicine, knowing I won’t be as anxious, unfocused, all the bad stuff that came with it, I knew it was going to be better.  It was time to take my Geometry and Spanish exam.  This time, I sat calmly, reading the questions thoroughly, feeling confident in what I studied.  Took the test, handed it in, and left the classroom feeling free from school for a little period of time.  Now I can focus my time on softball, speaking with my Louisville coach, giving her updates on what I was up to.  The fun part of my young teenage life.  But that feeling didn’t last very long.  


Chapter 4: The Verdict

About 2 weeks later, our final grades have been sent to our parents mailboxes.  Every time I would get my report card in the mail, I hid it from my dad until he asked where it was.  Yeah, I was that kid.  I knew this time around, I couldn’t do that same act.  I had to rip it open for the one final time to see if I am safe to get into University of Louisville.  I couldn’t get C’s or below in those two subjects.  As I slowly started opening the big yellow envelope, my body had the same reaction as it did when I had to check my previous grades, only this time it was worse.  I looked down at the subjects:

Geometry: C

Spanish: C


My heart sank.  I sat there with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.  How did I still manage to get a C while taking my ADD medicine? I thought everything was going to be fine! My parents felt the same of what I was feeling.  I knew this wasn’t good news for me.  As a few hours passed by, I get a call from the Louisville Coach.  My hand shook before I picked up the phone.  I cleared my throat and calmed my shaky voice and said, “Hey coach.” She responds to me in a slow disappointed voice with a sigh at the end, “Hey Morgan. I found out what your grades are.  I am sorry, but we cannot accept you into our school.  We are withdrawing your scholarship. I am sorry.” I didn’t know what to say after that death sentence.  I managed to get a quick response to her, saying thank you for investing your time in me. I hung up the phone. That was it. I sobbed uncontrollably in my dad’s arms.  When you play a sport and your dad has always been a mentor through the days of playing, he is your safe spot.  I felt like I let everyone down, I let myself down, I let my coaches down, I let my high school down. What kind of role model am I to my younger siblings? My high school coach left his intense manner behind and put on his calming tone for me to talk about other options.  His words were, “I will see what other colleges are interested.” It almost seemed impossible to find another college.  Who would want someone that just got her full scholarship taken away right before high school senior season started?? It’s already February! As I sat and thought about that, softball season was right around the corner.

 
 

Chapter 5: Follow the winning brick road


In the beginning of March, we started to get into our Varsity practices for the 2007 season.  We ran, we lifted, I puked, all the stuff you can think of that required blood, sweat, and tears.  I wanted something to go right from this nightmare.  Coach is constantly sending my pitching videos out, trying to get colleges to watch me throw.  Once they looked at my grades, it was a no.  I tried not to dwell too bad or I would lose focus.  My only escape at this point is to be with my team, and put everything I got into pitching, hitting, and fielding.  As April started approaching, we were gearing up for our first game.  I was ready to go and thought about my vision I had from the very start at basketball conditioning, “WINNING STATE.” I threw on my glove, laced up my metal cleats, ran out to the circle, and got pissed off like I do every game I pitch.  The first game I threw, I had about 18 strikeouts in 21 at bats. Only gave up 1 hit and 1 walk.  We won the first one at a close game.  I knew I was in the greatest shape of my life, but emotionally it was still lingering in the back of my mind.  The next 10 games we won all of them.  We have been lighting it up offensively, and defensively. Our team chemistry has never been so good in the past 3 years I have played in my high school career.   


As season is cruising by, we win another 10 games! I am throwing the most strikeouts I ever did.  At one point, I had 20 strikeouts out of 21 at bats.  Seriously, what did I eat? As we are making some history, someone mentioned if we should lose on purpose just to take pressure off of us.  But no. WE LIVE FOR PRESSURE.  Let’s keep going.  As we played our last regular season game, our record was 23-0.  We were stunned, shocked, but excited.  We never gelled so well as a whole.  As we prepare for sectionals, I get a call from a Junior College located in Marianna, FL.  It was a school called “Chipola College” that won several juco national championships in the past.  They were very interested in me and wanted to fly up to Indiana to watch our post season series.  Behind the scenes, Coach Cook and my personal pitching coach, John Feld, are working tiredlessly to put me through college.  It’s amazing what coaches do for you and how much they care.  They booked a ticket to go see us play in the Sectional Rounds at Noblesville High School. 


As we arrived at Noblesville, all I could think about was, ‘this is it. It’s a one and done deal.  No losers bracket, just one game.  Don’t worry about what’s happening with school, just focus on the now. “ In the past 3 years, we have always fallen short. We could never pass sectionals.  A little part of that danced in my head but I wouldn’t let it creep up much.  As the game started, I took the mound and there I saw the Chipola coaches behind home plate. They waved and gave me a thumbs up like they were my second mom and dad.  I can already tell they were nice people. (nice people off the field I should say. Ha) I geared up to throw against Noblesville. 


 I ended up with 15k’s, no hitter, winning 3-0.  Awesome, now we face Fishers.  Won 7-0 threw a 1 hitter with 18ks. Now for the sectional championship: Carmel. Carmel was our biggest rival at the time.  They always seemed like they gave us a run for our money.  As the game started, we put up 6 runs in the first 5 innings.  Ended up winning 6-0 and I got a hit over the center field fence with my yellow catalyst bat.  It was a great two days to relieve some stress away. After the game was finished, Coach Jimi Hendrix (what a great name) and Coach Melinda Hendrix (yes husband and wife) came up to me in their southern charm voice, “Congrats on winning your sectional championship! I am Coach Hendrix and this is Coach Hendrix.  We would love for you to come down on a visit to Chipola!” This has given me hope that there is a future for me.  I thanked them for coming and will see them again as I agreed to come down for a visit.  Things are slowly becoming better again.

 
 

Next we are approaching regionals.  On the bus to Center Grove, my stomach has never been so upset in my life.  I haven’t gotten this far, but I knew to not focus on the future, focus one pitch at a time.  We get off the bus to get ready to play Center Grove. A few hours later. Beat them at a close match up.  Next up is big ol Avon.  Avon had an amazing player who can pitch and hit.  She was an all around softballer who intimidated me.  While we were 6 innings in, Avon scored the 1st run off a double.  I sat there thinking, this might be it, we might be done, but Brett Wiliams, my catcher called time out to talk to me.  She calmed me down saying, “don’t worry we got your back.” We ended up getting out of the inning and in the last final inning, I ended up hitting the tying run in, and soon after, one of my teammates hit two more runs in to win the game! We have just won regionals! Record: 28-0.

I forgot to mention that after every post season game we win, our poor coaches get tee peed every time.  Imagine cleaning up your yard 10 times in a row! It’s almost like they would wish us to lose so we can stop the teepee abuse. But it’s not going to stop. Sorry Coaches!!


Chapter 6: 28-1?

Semi finals were next.  As we are hitting in the cages, the other teams parents had a shirt on that said 28-1.  People in sports should know to never put fuel to the fire.  Coach A, (Alison Cooke at the time, our high school pitching coach) said to us, go out there do your best.  Whatever happens, happens.  That put me at ease.  Coach A was always such a great role model to us girls that put so much wisdom in everything we did.  As we got on the field, these girls I was pitching to looked bigger and more aggressive.  They kept foul tipping every pitch I threw but eventually got them out defensively.  I felt off for our first game, but we ended up pulling through with a W.  So I guess we weren’t 28-1 after all. Next for the Semi-Final championship we played North Ridge high school.  Again, another W and another close game.  I think I may have a heart attack at the end of this year! As we are on our way home, the whole neighborhood is congratulating us on making it to state.  It seemed like all those past troubles I had, subsided for now.  


Chapter 7: The Finale


The day has finally come.  On June 9th, 2007, my dad’s birthday, still school less, but did graduate, thank you lord, we are playing Castle high school for the 4a state championship.  We are sitting at a 30-0 record.  It’s so crazy that one moment I was at the lowest point in my life, and now here I am playing for a state championship.  Life really does throw you a curve ball.  As we are setting up, Coach A and the parents are putting up our HSE decorations in the dugout.  The parents gather behind the home plate with their signs they made for their daughters while a hometown television camera is sitting near my other relatives.  I also see Coach Hendrix’s in the background about to watch me play.  As we run out, I run to the circle and start warming up my 3 pitches before the first inning.  


The game is neck and neck for the first 3 innings. I remember I kept striking a girl out then the other pitcher would do the same.  The field at Ben Davis was hard as a rock and any ball that was hit to our fielders and myself, it would take an ESPN top 10 play to throw someone out if hit hard.  Finally we ended up scoring in the 3rd inning, leading us 1-0 until in the top of the 7th, a Lasor hit went to our 2nd baseman that missed it, but you can’t blame her.. it was a HARD shot that was my fault for letting a fat pitch go by.  With that, we ended up tying the game up 1-1. 


 We kept playing for 10 innings straight, until finally Brett, my catcher, hits a double in the outfield.  She holds up on 2nd base and as I start to walk up to the plate, I hear the crowd chanting my name, “MORGAN MELLOH!!“ *clap *clap *clap *clap *clap* “MORGAN MELLOH!” *clap* clap* clap* clap* clap* I was 0-5 the whole night.  My teammates in the dugout livened up the crowd first.  It was a spiritual moment for me.  After feeling like crap, letting everyone down and myself for losing my full ride, I felt like it did a complete 180 in the moment.  I stepped in, watched the first pitch: ball low and outside.  I reset, stepped in, I can see the pitcher taking her time to place the ball where she wanted it.  


Her eyes looked glued to the catcher, while I concentrated on my breath watching the ball leave her hand. It felt like a slow motion moment for me. The 2nd ball thrown which was right down the middle, I made the split decision and “SMACK!” the ball traveled all the way to left center gap, I could hear the crowd SCREAMING and YELLING in joy, watching Brett run all the way home to win the game 2-1.  This was the best day of my life! I stood on 2nd while my teammates crowded around and kept hitting my helmet until it almost fell off.  I just couldn’t believe this day.  God works in mysterious ways.  After we won, I hear the crowd saying, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JEFF.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!” They sang to my dad for his birthday.  I was just so overwhelmed with happiness.  We dumped the Gatorade all over Coach Cook when he turned to the other coaches to congratulate them as well. We couldn’t of done it without them.  

 
 

Chapter 8: What’s next?


As we wound down from our 31-0 season, I was still scrambling for a college to go to.  My dream was to go to a D1 school so my pitching coach John Feld, sent several videos of me to Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, you name it.  But one college was interested in what I had to offer.  It was a school called “Fresno State University.” Coach Margie Wright looked at my pitching, liked what she saw, and got me into school on a waiver because of a great A.D.D. program they have.  I was very thankful for what she did and got a second chance on proving myself that I can make the grades.  As a freshman in college, I ended up having a 3.4 GPA, along with a Scholar Athlete award.  I thanked Chipola for their interest and am still keeping tabs on their seasons today.  


Chapter 9: The lesson


My lesson to young softball girls out there in high school, middle school, whatever age group you are in, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE choose education first.  Education is far more important than a sport.  From my past experience I shared with you, I was all about playing softball.  Go to a school that has a great program for what you want to be when you grow up.  Also, respect your coaches! If you think one of your coaches is mean, don’t take it in a negative way, they ARE your biggest fans in the end and working behind the scenes to give you a chance.  I hope you enjoyed my story as much as I loved telling it. 

 
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