Softball didn’t always come so easy for Bianca Mejia.
The Long Island University sophomore and Sylmar, Calif., native played baseball at the local Little League from when she was 4 years old until she was 11, but she knew at some point she was going to have to convert to playing softball.
She asked her older sister Krystal to help teach her. So Krystal took her out into the backyard one day and provided first lesson. She told Bianca, you need to get lower to the ground more in order to field a softball because of the shorter distance from home plate.
“She said, ‘Bend your knees and you have to get low,’” Bianca said. “I got my knees bent. I’m low to the ground.”
Krystal hit a ball just to her right and Bianca stood motionless.
“What are you doing?” asked Krystal, the former LIU player and current assistant coach. “‘You’re supposed to field it.’”
Bianca replied, “I’m stuck. I can’t move. It was horrible. It was hard.”
Oh, how things have changed.
Now Bianca, who transferred to LIU from Michigan State, is tearing up the diamond. The sophomore, who was recently named to the All−NEC first team, is batting .404 with a single−season program record 13 home runs. She has driven in 31 runs and has a ridiculous .742 slugging percentage.
“When she gets up, it doesn’t matter what the score of the game is, or what’s going on,” said LIU coach Roy Kortmann, who is not surprised at her success. “You just want to watch it.”
Bianca hits in the leadoff or No. 2 spot in the order to make sure she gets more or at bats, when she is not pitched around or walked. She is batting an absurd .522 against teams with a top−50 RPI. She has hit five homers and has a .976 slugging percentage in those games. The Blackbirds are 31−15 overall, 17−1 in the Northeast Conference, and the top seed in the conference tourney, which starts Friday at St. John’s University. LIU will look to win its fourth straight title.
“We’ve never had a kid who is almost expected to knock one out,” Krystal said.
Bianca plays an excellent shortstop, making more than a few game−changing plays, according to Kortmann. Bianca, who continues to work on her foot work and foot speed, was always been expected to make those types of plays. Even at a young age.
“It’s when she wouldn’t make that [diving] play, where my parents would be like, ‘What are you doing?’” Krystal said. “We would have to take a step back sometimes and realize. She was only 10 and 13 years old at the time.”
Bianca wasn’t having the same type of fun she is having now, while still performing well on the field, at Michigan State.
There she said she had lost her love for the game she enjoyed so much. She chose to take a shot at playing softball at Michigan State after falling in love with the campus and coaches. A year into her freshman season at the Big Ten school, Mejia she wasn’t having fun.
“I just wasn’t loving the sport any more out there,” she said. “It may have been the environment. It might have been anything, but I just wasn’t loving it.”
She decided to transfer and weighed her options. Mejia didn’t believe it was fair to hold a scholarship if she wasn’t happy. She chose to come to Long Island University, which had recruited her aggressively in high school. The program seemed like just the right fit, with Krystal, who graduated in 2008, coaching there, and her cousin Vanessa, a 2006 grad, having also played at the school.
“I knew what the program had to offer and what I was getting out of it before I was getting into it,” Mejia said. “I knew everything and I loved everything about it.”
The Blackbirds certainly are happy to have her.