The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Melissa Anderson ’18 is a Hero

Photo by Mahira Faran

The S&B: How did it feel when you found out that you won the ‘Hero of the Week’ honor?

Melissa Anderson: It actually felt really good, I didn’t really know about the award until my coach nominated me for it, and I saw on social media that she was trying to get attention brought to me from Hero Sports. So I looked into it and I saw they cover DI, DII and DIII sports and it was just really cool that they give recognition to all three levels. I was looking at all the other women that were also nominated and saw there was some pretty tough competition, but I feel like I threw pretty well that week. I had a good stat line, so I was pretty excited to find out that I won.

The S&B: How did the voting process for the award work?

MA: It’s a regular poll, you can vote once an hour or something like that. I told my friends about it, and my family and they just kind of spread the word. You can vote for eight people for player of the week and then there’s like six or eight people for pitcher of the week.

The S&B: How long have you been playing softball? And what other sports do you do?

MA: I started playing softball when I was maybe seven or eight. I also did martial arts, and I did track, volleyball. That was just until I hit maybe sixth or seventh grade and then I realized that I really loved pitching and so I had to narrow it down to just one sport, so I had time to completely focus on that. I’m obviously very glad that I chose to do that. It seems to be working out pretty well for me. I played travel ball probably for six or eight years. I was actually on an elite travel program. We had a national championship in 2014 and in 2015 we were World Series runner-ups. So that was pretty nice to have that under my belt.

The S&B: What has your relationship with your teammates been like through the years? It seems like especially when you’re young, your team becomes sort of like a family.

MA: Definitely. Especially now in college we have classes together and we all go to practice together, go to dinner together and we spend so much time together, it’s just natural to become really close with your team. I think I noticed this year more than the previous two years at Grinnell there’s been like a family bond between all the players and the coaches, too.

The S&B: Can you talk about the way that the program has developed in your time here?

MA: Coming out of senior year of high school, Grinnell didn’t really have a strong record at all. So coming in first year we definitely wanted to change that and make Grinnell into a winning program. We didn’t have a lot of pressure to succeed because it was just a bunch of first years trying to do our thing and make a name for ourselves in the conference and in the school. I even remember first year, I told someone I was on the softball team and they were like ‘we have a softball team? I didn’t even know.’ We just keep working hard and second year we definitely made a lot of strides, but I think this year we made strides not just on the field but also off the field collectively as a unit. We’re just very cohesive as a team.

The S&B: What has been your favorite part of playing softball at Grinnell? It sounds like your teammates are a big part of that.

MA: I think my favorite part of playing softball is definitely having all these friends that I can count on, and being able to count on them on the field to make a lot of great defensive plays behind me or to put up a bunch of runs if I’m not really throwing great that day, but also to be able to count on them if I’m feeling stressed academically or in my personal life. It’s nice to have people to count on.

The S&B: Have you always been a pitcher or have you played around the field a bit?

MA: My first year playing softball I pitched. When you’re young you play pretty much everywhere, but I really liked pitching. I just really liked having that control over the game and being able to put my heart into every pitch. Whereas [with] position players you’re not involved in every pitch and every play. So I really like being able to control the game at my speed.

The S&B: How do you get yourself psyched up for games?

MA: I usually try to actually keep pretty calm before games. Some of my teammates get hyped up, singing, yelling. I like to just focus in my own head for a little bit and then join the team singing and dancing, or whatever we’re doing in the locker room. That way I can focus and think about what I need to do personally to succeed in the game and then focus and say ‘this is what I need to do to help the team as well’.

The S&B: How do you turn around a game if you’re having an off day? Do you feel a lot of pressure as the pitcher?

MA: I try to not feel pressure. Sometimes I have to play defense and I definitely feel more pressure on defense than I do when I throw, I just feel so confident on the mound. But when I do have a bad inning or the other team strings together a couple hits I just take a step back and look around at my teammates and they just make eye contact with me and tell me ‘hey you got this, you’re a great pitcher, we believe in you’, and then I just take a deep breath and I’m able to keep going.

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