Liliana Mejia has accomplished plenty in her time with Ripon High’s softball program, but she is not satisfied yet.
And she’ll remain hungry as she moves on to her next chapter in life as a Bulldog. On Wednesday, the reigning Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP signed her letter of intent to play for Fresno State of the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference.
It was a perfect fit for many reasons, Mejia said. She’ll study kinesiology.
“I’ve always wanted to play at a high level so that I can be pushed to be better,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be as good I can be, there’s always room to improve. Playing Division I has been my dream and I look at it as a challenge. That played a really big factor (in her decision). I never wanted to settle for anything less than what I worked hard for.”
Mejia also wanted to stay close to home. She looked at other Division I schools in Northern California, but they weren’t giving her much of a look.
Fresno State head coach Linda Garza did and may have uncovered a diamond in the rough. Mejia visited the campus last July and committed soon after receiving an offer from Garza.
“The coaching staff was super welcoming,” Mejia said. “Coach Garza was always straight up with me, and she didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t enough despite me being undersized. She valued me and gave me the opportunity.
“As soon as I stepped on campus it felt like home. It’s how I want to spend my next four years.”
Fresno State took fourth in the in the nine-team MWC last spring with a 14-10 record, finishing 37-20 overall. Mejia is already familiar with some of her future teammates having previously played with and befriending Oakdale grad Lexie Webb and Bella Vista product Kelsey Hall — both freshmen.
Recruited as an outfielder, Mejia has had to play third base for Ripon out of necessity. Last season, she led the Indians to their finest season in program history, hitting .519 to go with six homers, 33 runs and 37 RBIs. Mejia was the unanimous MVP in the Trans Valley League.
Ripon compiled a 24-2 record, earned its second Sac-Joaquin Section championship and was named the 2019 Cal-Hi Sports Division IV State Team of the Year. In addition, Robert Vernon was named Cal-Hi Sports Small Schools Coach of the Year.
Mejia returns as captain, a role she takes seriously. As much as she’d like to claim another section title, her ultimate goal is for Ripon’s young and talented core to continue winning after she is gone.
“For my final year, I just want to help prepare the younger girls to step up so they can just full in when I leave,” Mejia said. “Hopefully we can win another section championship. I just want to really prepare myself for Fresno State and continue to get better with leadership, communication, fundamentals and skills.”