The grind does not stop for Ripon High senior Liliana Mejia, even if the softball season is over.
She is already preparing for Fresno State, and the competition for a roster spot at the Mountain West Conference school will be stiff since 2020 seniors are allowed to return to finish out their NCAA careers.
The Bulletin’s reigning All-Area MVP has continued to refine her hitting and fielding, and she works out on the home gym in the garage. She’s also keeping her mind sharp, reading books on sports psychology.
“We’re not sure if the summer season is in play (for travel ball), so I’m doing everything I possibly can to work extra hard,” Mejia said. “With the bigger roster it’s going to be a challenge and I want to make sure I’m ready for it.
“It’s a new thing going from a leader in high school and travel to being an incoming freshman and following the leaders. I’m just trying to be a better teammate to benefit my future team.”
Mejia doesn’t need a fourth season to cement her status among the standouts to come out of Ripon in recent years. She and the Indians enjoyed a historic 2019 campaign in which they were named the Cal-Hi sports Division IV State Team of the Year after earning the second Sac-Joaquin Section championship for the program. Ripon finished 24-2.
Mejia was voted All-Trans Valley League MVP, and shortly after the season ended she committed to Fresno State. She hit .519 with six homers and 37 RBIs while manning the hot corner for the Indians. Mejia played third base her sophomore and junior years, though her natural position is in center field. She made all-league every season.
“It was an unforgettable experience,” Mejia said. “I’ll always remember the smiles on my teammates’ faces and seeing how happy Coach (Robert) Vernon was. Not only being part of the team, but being a leader was very important to me.”
Mejia and the Indians were in championship form to start the 2020 season. Ripon was 5-0 with four mercy-rule wins and in the middle of the Randy Watt Invitational in Colusa when spring sports contests were getting cancelled across the state. Three weeks later, the California Interscholastic Federation called off the remainder of the season.
Mejia’s shortened senior season ended with her hitting 9-for-14 (.643) with nine runs, two RBIs and two doubles.
“I feel like I’m going away in a good position,” Mejia said. “I definitely wanted to accomplish more this year and bring another section championship back to Ripon, but I can leave content with what we did. I do wish I could have played all four years instead of three.”