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Sports

Melly Gonzales’ swing is sweet music to Morton

Mustangs and their junior first baseman have made great strides in two years

Morton's Melly Gonzales swings at a pitch in a game with Willowbrook in Villa Park on May 9.
Morton's Melly Gonzales swings at a pitch in a game with Willowbrook in Villa Park on May 9.

Melly Gonzales is proof of the power of positive thinking.

A sweet lefty swing helps.

Gonzales, a Morton junior, said she used to be guilty of letting negative thoughts creep into her mind.

Not anymore.

“I play with a clear mind,” Gonzales said. “I don’t bring any negative thoughts up to the plate with me. Sometimes I sing a song in my head when I’m up to bat.”

Gonzales doesn’t have a favorite tune, but her hitting has been sweet music to Morton.

The first baseman is batting .486 with a .580 on-base percentage for a Mustangs team that’s made great strides the past two seasons.

Morton was 5-20 two seasons ago, improved to 10-18 last year, and enters this week 12-12. And that’s starting as many as five sophomores this year.

Leadoff hitter Mina Salazar is hitting .471, and No. 2 hitter Miriah Sierra is hitting .571, ideal table setters for Gonzales.

“Those two girls are getting on base a ton for her,” second-year Morton coach Tommy Blood said. “Melly is a lefty hitter, she has that natural sweet left-handed swing. Melly is our captain, and our leader.”

Blood first coached Gonzales in Berwyn Little League, when their team won the 9-year-old district championship.

“She always has got a smile on her face, gives you 100 percent,” Blood said, “and can really swing the bat. When you see it, you’re like ‘Wow.’”

Gonzales didn’t envision this kind of success on the diamond.

When she was little, she went to the Berwyn Rec Center with her dad, who wanted her to try a sport. They checked off the list of sports and came to softball.

“He said, ‘What about softball?’ and I said, ‘What’s softball?’” Gonzales recalled. “Right away I made some really good friends. It stuck.”

She never imagined she’d be playing this long, and Blood said she’s a different player than the one he remembered. Gonzales has gone from playing travel with the Downers Grove Outlaws to the Bulls/Sox Academy team to now the LT Blazers.

“I feel like when I was younger, I used to let things get in my head a lot,” Gonzales said. “I’d strike out and be like, ‘Wow, maybe I’m not that good.’ Now I realize that I have multiple at-bats in a game, and multiple opportunities to help your team. One strikeout does not determine what kind of batter you are.”

Blood considers her a line-drive hitter who can flash power. In a big come-from-behind win over Hinsdale Central, Gonzales went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer. She rarely strikes out.

“She’s a hard out,” Blood said. “A lot of teams pitch away from her. If you miss inside, she’ll hammer it. She’ll turn on a pitch and she really hits the ball hard.”

Now when Gonzales goes to the plate, she does so with a purpose.

“She used to take that first pitch just to see it; now she’s jumping on the first pitch,” Blood said. “She’ll look for her pitch until there’s two strikes, then she’ll fight off strikes. She’s learned that she has to have an idea with what she’s doing.”

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