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TEN QUESTIONS WITH MELANIE DENISCHUK
Melanie Denischuk shattered many of the school's offensive records in 2006.
2006 Stats: Shattered school records for home runs (24), RBI (82), total bases (161), slugging percentage (.880), walks (39) and on-base percentage (.545) in a season… Posted a .432 batting average, tied for highest on team… Record 79 hits, including 10 doubles… Scored 45 runs… Committed only three errors in 359 chances for .992 fielding percentage.
2006 Awards: NFCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region First Team…
2006 Rankings: Led NCAA in RBI per game (1.28)… Ranked second in NCAA in home runs per game (0.38), third in slugging percentage (.880) and tied for 14th in batting average (.432)… Led America East in slugging percentage (.880), on-base percentage (.545), hits (79), RBI (82), home runs (24), total bases (161) and walks (39)… Also tied for league lead in batting average (.432) and ranked fifth in runs scored (45).
Notes: Transferred to UMBC in January after one semester at
Q: You’ve been to four different colleges in four years. How did you end up here at UMBC?
Melanie Denischuk: I had originally planned on coming here (after junior college) but I always wanted to pursue my dream of playing at a big school. I thought that was exactly what I wanted, so I went to
Q: You went from
MD: My brother was playing at school in
Q: You hit 14 home runs in two seasons of junior college, but you hit 24 this year. How do you explain that?
MD: I really tried to focus more on my mental game this year. Physically, I liked my batting stance, I liked how I hit the ball. It was more looking for pitches early (in the count) that I could drive, trying to lay off pitches I couldn’t do much with early in the count, if I got to a full count, trying to foul a pitch off to make a pitcher make mistakes. Mainly just the mental part of the game, looking for better pitches, that sort of thing.
Q: You’ve gotten a number of awards this year. What do they mean to you?
MD: Of course it’s an honor to receive any award. Individual awards in a team sport are an honor, but at the same time you want the team awards, and of course we fell a little shy of our (conference) tournament championship. It’s an honor, it’s something I’ll always remember, but more than anything I would have rather had an America East tournament championship. Hopefully we can get it next year.
Q: What has been your biggest thrill or favorite moment on the field?
MD: This year I would have to say beating
Q: Who has been your biggest influence?
MD: My brother. He played college baseball, he went on to play some pro baseball. He’s probably one of the best hitting coaches I’ve ever met, and really he’s helped me with my hitting more than anything. He knows his hitting really well, especially the mental part of the game.
Q: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
MD: That I hate the cold weather even though I’m from
Q: When did you start playing softball?
MD: I think when I was around six, but I didn’t play competitively until the later years of high school. I was always involved in a ton of different sports, especially in the summer. I swam, I played basketball, volleyball, badminton, track and field, curling, dance – I tried a little bit of everything. So I never really got seriously involved in softball until the end of high school, and even then we didn’t play the same type of schedule that Americans play, so my first true full season of softball was when I came to college.
Q: Do you get homesick being so far away from home?
MD: I used to. I’ve been away from home for long enough now that I don’t really. My first year at junior college was a little bit tougher. I went through some deaths in the family, I tore my ACL. It was kind of a hard year away from home to begin with. But every year after that has gotten easier and easier. It’s definitely hard when you first move away from home, especially if you’re used to having your parents every day like I was. You get done a softball game and you’re all excited and you don’t have anyone to go to. But now I’m used to it. Plus Ashlea (Underwood, a California native) has been a big help because even though I don’t have anyone to go to, she doesn’t either, so we just kind of talk about it.
Q: How frustrating was it to get walked so many times at the end of the season?
MD: It wasn’t really that frustrating because it is an honor. Another team is saying they really respect you. It got a little frustrating when we were losing and I was getting walked because getting walked is helpful to the team but it felt like it wasn’t always the most helpful, so I felt like I wasn’t always contributing my part, even though it wasn’t by choice, so that got a little frustrating. But otherwise it’s really not something to be frustrated about. I’m happy they walked me instead of hitting me like other teams were doing.