By UTA PR Student Macey Mercer
ARLINGTON, Texas - A father's passion for baseball influenced his daughters, Sandra and Melanie Mendoza, to become softball players who strive to be their best on and off the field.
Sandra Mendoza, junior infielder and the eldest of four siblings, has been playing softball since she was four years old. Her father, Reynol Mendoza played Triple-A baseball, which motivated his decision to put Sandra and Melanie in the softball program at a young age. Reynol is a constant encourager to get work done and practice or remind them there will always be another player working harder, Sandra said.
"My dad has always been my influence in my whole softball career," Sandra said. "I’ve always looked up to him because I admire his success in his baseball career, the way he coaches and the way he plays the game. I am just honored to have been coached by him."
The Mendoza sisters grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas, a very small town about eight hours away from Arlington. Sandra and Melanie grew up playing many different sports such as dance, basketball and volleyball.
"Since I live in a small town, it was so much easier to decide what we really wanted to do," Sandra said."When the time came to choose one sport, we chose softball."
"I would not know what I would be doing if I didn’t play softball," Melanie said.
Freshman infielder Melanie Mendoza said Sandra has always been a role model in all aspects of her life.
"We were very close growing up and did almost everything together, " Melanie said. "My favorite memory of Sandra is playing together on the high school softball team."
When asked to describe Sandra using five words or phrases Melanie said her sister has a good heart, very energetic, caring, funny and loud.
"She wanted me to do more stuff with her all of the time," Melanie said."Then we just ended up getting close as we grew up. She was my best friend growing up."
Sandra said growing up with Melanie was very fun. Sandra enjoyed aggravating and picking on Melanie. However, the little sister would win the arguments in the end, Sandra said.
"Having Melanie on the same team is great because we can see and talk to each other every day," Sandra said."We both work hard on and off the field, we both have the same goals and we both strive for the same thing which is to be successful and have fun in life. I love playing with my sister. She's always been my best friend. Knowing that she is here and working just as hard as I am with the same goals as I have, it makes it easier for the both of us."
"Sandra has been such a blessing for us as a ball player and as a person," UTA coach Kristie Fox said."When the opportunity came to recruit Melanie later on in the process, we jumped on the opportunity."
Due to Sandra’s upbringing, she has become a strong leader on the team. Sandra doesn’t find any challenges in being a leader, she said. She goes onto the field and focuses on doing her best.
"I try to give people pointers and they give me pointers," Sandra said."If we have that type of chemistry and that type of bond we can grow together."
"She’s a huge leader on and off the fielder," teammate Shelbi Sikes said."I think it helps not only me but all of us build off of her. We always want to follow her footsteps. We want to be the leader she is every day. No questions asked, Sandra is always going to be there and we will be there too."
According to Fox, Sandra sees herself as her biggest competition, which means she works hard all the time. Sandra found a way to set an example by being consistent with her mental side.
"She has that grit," Fox said."That chip on her shoulder and she knows what she is capable of. Not only does she have the talent to begin with, she works hard every single day to get better and work on her craft."
When asked about being on the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List, Sandra said it doesn’t change the way she sees things because it has already happened.
"It’s not about what has already happened, it’s about what I do next," Sandra said."I just try to stay focus on the next game, next pitch and next ball hit to me because if I let things get to big than it could go downhill."
As for future plans after graduation, Sandra plans to go to Physician Assistant school. She also wants to continue to play softball for as long as possible.
"My main goal in life is to do something in life that helps people grow and be better in life," Sandra said."I’ve always been the caregiving type."
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