As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of high school spring sports, local seniors were faced with an abrupt ending to their high school careers. A group of these students were also athletes at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota. This Rangers Academy Senior Spotlight series seeks to highlight those athletes who have worked on their craft at the Academy as they move into the next chapter in their lives.
When COVID-19 cut Melanie Miramontes' senior season of high school softball short in March, she didn't want to believe it, let alone talk about it.
"Little by little, I worked on accepting the fact that I didn't get to end my season the way I would've liked," Miramontes said.
That process brought the pitcher back to the field she had called home at Dallas' Bryan Adams High School one final time.
"I drove to the softball field by myself to have some time alone with my home field," Miramontes said. "As I walked to the field, I saw one of my teammates there, another senior. She was also crying about our season being cut short. We spent a short time together reminiscing until she had to leave. I stayed to continue replaying memories. It was a bittersweet moment."
Bryan Adams wasn't the only place Miramontes made softball memories.
For the part two years, Miramontes has brought her talents to the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex. She made the 2018 and '19 Rangers Academy RBI All-Star team that represented the facility at the RBI Southwest Regionals and was a member of the Academy's team in last year's Jennie Finch Classic in Cleveland as part of All-Star Weekend festivities.
The trip to Ohio wasn't just Miramontes' first time playing softball out of the state of Texas, it was also her favorite experience with the Rangers Academy.
"Not only did I get to experience playing out of state amongst many other competitive teams and team players, but I also had the opportunity to watch my very first Home Run Derby at the Cleveland Indians' stadium! It was a great week filled with competitiveness, growth and fun opportunities," Miramontes said.
Playing softball has taught Miramontes sportsmanship and the importance of being able to work with people no matter the situation, whether it be teammates and coaches, umpires or the opposition.
"Sportsmanship maintains a fun, positive environment for everyone to play confidently and comfortably. I believe that playing in unison is very important for a strong team dynamic," Miramontes said.
Instead of playing softball this summer, Miramontes is preparing to embark on her college journey.
For Academy director Juan Leonel Garciga, who also coached Miramontes on both the Jennie Finch and RBI All-Star teams, it's hard to imagine her softball career ending entirely.
"Melanie had a good run as one of the top pitchers in our program and we are happy to see that she is at peace with walking away from softball to focus on the next chapter of her life and education. While it would have been fun to have her a part of making another run at an RBI Regionals title, maybe she'll have that opportunity as a coach someday," Garciga said.
Miramontes will head to College Station, Texas, in the fall to attend Texas A&M University, a school she chose specifically for the engineering program.
"I plan on studying technology management through Texas A&M's engineering program," Miramontes said. "I have always had an interest in technology, and through further research of the school, I believe I will get the best learning opportunity at Texas A&M. Aside from this, Texas A&M is not too far from home for me to visit my family, and I also have friends and family attending. I am grateful to have close people around me while I take on my journey at A&M."
Miramontes is gearing up to take advantage of the opportunities the university offers to launch her into a career in technology management.
"I understand that school can take up a lot of my time, so as I diligently plan for my future, I also will balance my school life and personal life," Miramontes said.